SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You not only have the chance to participate in a friendly competition, but also help save a life while doing so.

The 27th annual Heroes Behind the Badges blood drive is currently underway.

The Sioux Falls Police Department and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue go head to head to see who can get the most donations.

“It’s a great event and it’s a friendly competition between PD and fire, we like to brag that fire has won the majority of them, we have a pretty high mark, but PD did win last year, so we are trying to bring back the traveling trophy this year,” division chief, Steve Fessler said.

Harlan Dirksen is spending his morning doing his part by donating. He says he started donating when he was in his 20s.

“My next donation will be at six gallons, I’ve been a paramedic/firefighter for 40 years so I have been trying to give a lot because I know how much blood helps,” Dirksen said.

This year the goal is to collect around 700 units of blood.

“It’s a two week event, there’s a huge amount of opportunities for people to donate blood at different organizations throughout the Sioux Falls area, it’s really easy for people to log on and schedule an appointment on our website,” Ken Versteeg with the Community Blood Bank said.

While the event is a way to encourage people to donate over the holidays, this year, there’s an even bigger need, after blood drives were canceled due to recent bad weather.
“We had to cancel nearly a week’s worth of our blood supply,” Versteeg said.

And you have until January 7th to help make a difference.

“The competition is fun, but the most important thing is to get people out here to donate,” Fessler said.

“If at all possible do it, I’ve been a medic for 40 years, and I’ve seen how it basically saves lives,” Dirksen said.

For a list of places to donate during the competition, click here.