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Public safety agencies host joint blood drive

COVINGTON -- Public safety workers have the mission of saving lives. On Wednesday, they're going beyond the normal realm of duties and showing just how dedicated they are to that mission.

Various local public safety agencies are sponsoring a blood drive from 1-7 p.m. at Newton County Fire Service headquarters at 4136 U.S. Hwy. 278 NE.

The public is asked to donate. The agencies involved -- Covington-Newton County 911 Center, Newton and Covington fire departments, Newton County Sheriff's Office, Covington and Oxford police departments -- are also having a friendly competition. The agency that recruits the most employees to donate receives a plaque from the American Red Cross.

The blood drive, called Badges for Life, was the idea of 911 dispatchers. During a conversation with co-workers, "We got to thinking about what happened in Oklahoma and we thought it would be nice to do a blood drive," said 911 Dispatcher Nate Stykes, referring to the deadly tornado that struck Oklahoma City in late May. Stykes said he and dispatchers Christian Favors and Love Frazier and Capt. Ken Malcom with the Covington Police Department coordinated the event.

Stykes said he learned the Covington Police Department was also planning a blood drive, so they decided to make it a joint effort.

To be eligible to donate you must be at least 17, be in general good health and weigh at least 110 pounds.

Donors who do not have a donor card should present a photo ID. Walk-ins are welcome, or to schedule an appointment, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543). or visit www.redcrossblood.org.

Donors are encouraged to eat well and drink lots of caffeine-free liquids before donating.

Blood donation takes between 45 minutes and one hour, said Nicole Valentine, telerecruiter with the Red Cross. After being tested, blood is sent to local hospitals in the area where it is collected, she said. Blood supply is typically low during summer months, she said.