Westerville's emergency responders will have a sanguine competition next week -- to see who can draw the most blood.

Westerville's emergency responders will have a sanguine competition next week -- to see who can draw the most blood.

For the third year, Westerville firefighters and law enforcement officers will take part in the American Red Cross Guns-N-Hoses campaign, intended to increase the number of blood donations made during the critical trauma period of summer.

For this year's competition, members of the public are also invited to donate their blood along with the emergency responders, according to ARC communications specialist Heather Reichle. Donors will be able to designate whether their blood will be counted for the fire or police department.

"Not everyone can save someone from a burning building or put criminals behind bars," said Rodney Wilson, spokesman for the Central Ohio Blood Services region of the ARC. "But when you donate blood with fire and police officers this July you can make a difference by helping save up to three lives with your single donation."

Westerville fire chief Bernie Ingles and police chief Joe Morbitzer will host the blood drive on July 2. From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. city employees are invited to donate at the Westerville police station, 29 S. State St., and from 1 to 7 p.m. the public is invited to donate at the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave.

Donors will receive a free pint of Homemade Brand ice cream, a $7 coupon to Cedar Point and can enter to win a one-year lease on a Saturn vehicle and drawings for $100 gas cards, according to Reichle.

Morbitzer said it always feels good in law enforcement to give back to the same citizens who regularly support the department.

"It's a good friendly competition for a good cause," he said. "Anytime we can get involved in something like this it's always great. The residents recognize our staff for the work we do, and it's our turn to give back to those citizens in need."

Ingles said the city will be encouraging people to attend the drive during tomorrow's Fourth Friday celebration, which ties in well with its "Safety City" theme.

"This is a really good time to get the public involved and give them the opportunity to donate blood on behalf of either the police or fire divisions," Ingles said. "Summer time is a really difficult time. the Red Cross always has trouble keeping the (blood) stock up this time of year."

The campaign is scheduled during the summer "trauma season," when the demand for blood often exceeds supply. Trauma season, which spans Memorial Day to Labor Day, is characterized by an increase in motor vehicle crashes and related injuries; at the same time, busy summer schedules mean people are less likely to donate, according to Reichle.

While Westerville's police collected the most pints two years ago, firefighters evened the score last year.

Members of Local 67 of the International Association of Firefighters, the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, the Ohio State Troopers Association and the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association are expected to donate more than 1,500 pints of blood in July, according to Reichle. About 15,200 additional blood donations will be needed to collect the 16,900 pints required to meet the demand for the month.

Those wishing to donate blood can schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or online at www.bloodsaveslives.com.

lrice@thisweeknews.com