Battle Of The Badges? Nope, Tug-O-Firetruck

In prior years, Battle of the Badges has been a competitive blood drive between Team Fire and Team Law, where donors choose a side to represent before giving blood. As a “thank you,” participants receive a T-shirt (highlighting their team, of course) and the chance to win a Hawaiian getaway. But perhaps what is even more rewarding is the chance to witness a tug-o-war contest between Fargo firefighters and police officers.

Eric Eisenlohr of Team Fire, (left) and Joe Johnson of Team Law (right) represent their group on Tuesday morning before the blood drive begins. United Blood Services will keep track of the donation counts for both sides throughout the week.

Unfortunately, today United Blood Services (UBS) had lined up several police officers to participate in the event, but duty called and many had to attend court last minute or partake in the West Fargo Active Shooter School. (Can’t take a day off from catching the bad guys.)

Various Fargo firefighters pulled a firetruck weighing more than 30,000 pounds to celebrate the blood drive kick-off.

Today, firemen decided to put on their own show. Rather than competing in tug-o-war, or what they like to call “drag a cop,” ten firefighters agreed on a game of tug-o-firetruck.

The History Behind the Event

According to Katie Bartelson of United Blood Services, roughly 80 percent of people will need additional blood at some point in their life. In the FM area, donations surge during the school year when college students abound. During the summer, however, donations lag when those students leave town. The Battle of the Badges event helps boost blood donations for the summer, and until nine years ago, the event didn’t exist.

“Rapid City started [the event]. We branched off and brought it here, and then it was so successful that we shared it with the other locations,” said Rob Miller, senior donor recruitment representative for United Blood Services (UBS) of Fargo.

Police officers and firefighters each put their own twist into the competition. “Not every site does the tug-o-war,” Miller continued. “[Some] do weight lifting—Bismarck does that, and they do push-ups. We did that one year …”

Captain Eric Eisenlohr, vice president of Fargo Firefighters Local 642 station, has been with the department for 14 years.“One year we did a tricycle race,” Eisenlohr said. “So we had two tricycles and the steering was loose on one of them. The cops somehow switched it with ours. So we had the wrecked one… and they of course won that one.”

Deputy Mayor and City Commissioner Mike Williams unveiled another benefit to donating blood this week. “I’ll tell you what, I’m a little overweight, and I could lose a pound today guaranteed!” he said. “So anyone who wants to lose a pound today, come on out!”

Although the competition can get ruthless, the two sides are able to come together for some friendly competition and a good cause that impacts the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Impacting the Community

According to UBS Donor Recruitment Representative Katie Bartelson, the impact that donations have on the community is a big one. She says we don’t always know when someone will be in need of blood, much like Vince Ulstad couldn’t have predicted his head on collision in 2009. The Fargo man required 55 units of blood after his accident. “Even though now I am completely, permanently blind, my life has never been better,” Ulstad said during the conference. He attributes this to everyone’s donation efforts.

At the press conference, Vince Ulstad gave a first-hand story of how volunteers, who donated blood, helped save his life.

Just one extra donation has a huge impact on how much blood is collected. “When a patient needs ten units of blood, they don’t need nine, they don’t need seven. They need ten. That’s the difference of one donation,” Bartelson said, during the press conference held at West Acres today.

Captain Eisenlohr agrees. “We never plan for trauma, but it’s important to have some [blood] in stock,” he said.

To get in on some healthy competition (pun intended), donate blood in the West Acres Food Court from 11 AM to 7 PM Tuesday, July 21 through Friday, July 24.

Co-authored by Hillary Sloan.

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