By Ed Brock
Clayton County's police officers and firefighters are going to give blood until it hurts, and they want other citizens to do the same.
They will join police and fire departments across the Atlanta metro area for Tuesday's Badges for Life campaign for the American Red Cross. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. they will hold blood drives at Police Department Headquarters at 7911 N. McDonough Street in Jonesboro and at Fire Department Headquarters at 7810 Ga. Highway 85 in Riverdale.
"Anybody who comes here is going to count for us," said Clayton Count Police Capt. Jeff Turner who overseeing the competition for the police department.
The blood drive is especially necessary this time of year, said Chris Hrouda, chief executive officer of Red Cross Blood Services Southern Region.
"We have a tough time supplying enough blood to our hospitals in December because donations fall off sharply during the holidays and few organizations have blood drives at the end of the year," Hrouda said. "We welcome the help of these fine civil servants to encourage more Georgians to give blood so more lives can be saved."
Turner said police officers know how important it is to have a good supply of blood.
"In our profession we're well aware that at any time any one of us could be in need of a transfusion," Turner said.
Plus there's some good-natured competitiveness between the two departments.
"We love our brothers and sisters in the fire department, but we're always glad to squeeze a little blood out of them," Clayton County Police Chief Darrell Partain said.
Clayton County Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Hood admitted that they lost last year's competition to their colleagues in blue.
"We have to let them win something," Hood said. "They haven't beat us in basketball in the past four years."
The chance to get a free T-shirt does inspire some of the firefighters, said CCFD spokeswoman Amy Nix.
"But it's a lot of 'We're going to bring the trophy home," Nix said.
And like Hrouda, Hood said there is a greater need for blood at this time of year.
"This is a great cause, and we're honored to participate in it," Hood said.
All participants, police, firefighters and civilians alike will receive the free T-shirt. Eligible donors must be in good health, 17 years of age or older and weigh at least 110 pounds.
Turner said that, for safety reasons, only off duty or administrative personnel will be allowed to donate. Nix said on-duty firefighters will be allowed to give blood.
For more information on other Badges for Life blood drives around Atlanta, or about donating blood in general, call 1-800-448-3543 or go to www.givebloodredcross.org.