NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Titans and their official healthcare provider, Saint Thomas Health l Ascension teamed up with the Davidson County Metro Police, Sheriff and Fire Departments to clash for a cause – helping save lives and earn top bragging rights at the annual Music City Battle of the Badges blood drive at Nissan Stadium.
The blood drive is Middle Tennessee's largest blood drive and marks a 10-year partnership with the Red Cross. Honoring law enforcement and fire personnel, while helping to save lives through blood donation, is a long-standing tradition in Nashville.
"Nothing is more important and a higher priority, than making sure we do everything we can to help with the blood drive," said Titans President & CEO Steve Underwood.
"This blood drive is very important because no matter if you are working with the police department, sheriff or the fire department, we are all about saving lives," said Sergeant Bonita Blue, School Resource Officer of the East Precinct.
"We've been supporting the cause since it started," said Captain W. Montrell Tony, Nashville Fire Department. "Do to the nature of what we do for a living, we see first-hand the tragedies that families face around America and this is our way on continuing to give to those families. By donated blood today, no matter which team you support, you're helping families get back on their feet who are in need. It's a great cause!"
"This is a friendly competition and certainly I think it's something maybe back in our minds we take for granted that if there is an injury to us, our family or any member of the public that the blood will always be there and that's not always the case," said Chief Steve Anderson, Davidson County Metro Police Department. "It takes us stepping up to make sure that the blood supply is there."
Blood and platelet donations often decline during the summer months when busy summer schedules and vacation plans can cause some donors to be less available to give. The need for blood remains constant all summer long. Blood is vital for the operation of all our organs and that's why donating blood is exceptionally important.
The need is especially critical for type O blood donors. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.
Davidson County Metro Police, Sheriff and Fire Departments face off in the Music City Battle of the Badges Blood Drive, presented by Saint Thomas Health, at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Lynne McCracken)
Blood donation is incredibly important as it is used for a wide range of clinical circumstances including heart transplants and heart surgeries. Around 80% from donation drives goes to emergency rooms. When critical patients are in the need of blood, it's important to have access to blood quickly and these events help accomplish that need.
"I joined the marine corps in 1975 and the month I joined, my dad had a massive heart attack and needed blood. The reason I started giving blood was because at that point, if you gave blood it was free, so my family started giving then and that's what started the process for me," said Ford.
"More blood is needed now than ever. The summertime is a very tough time of the year to collect blood because of vacations, schools and all the things that make it difficult, but emergencies don't take a vacation, so we need to point out to the community how important it is to give this time of the year," said Sheriff Daron Hall of Davidson County.
"When you see people in a time of crisis and you're rushing them to the hospital, you know on the other end the efforts and time put in by the American Red Cross is going to be instrumental in helping that person survive really hits home," said Toney.
The Red Cross is facing an emergency blood shortage and is issuing an urgent call for blood donors to give now so patients can continue to receive the lifesaving treatment they need. Right now, blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. More donations are needed now to help replenish the blood supply.
"I think it's the right thing to do and it doesn't cost you a penny. It's good reminder that it's an easy way to give back to the community," said Ford. "This is one of the most important drives during the year for Nashville."
For the sixth year in a row, the Davidson County Sheriff's Office won with donations totaling 377, almost a hundred more than the second-place team, the Nashville Fire Department at 275 and Davidson County Metro Police at 247, but all departments exceeding their goals making hospital patients the true winners.
The drive has collected more than 2,385 pints (1,130 liters) of blood in the last 10 years and collected 338 pints of lifesaving blood this year, exceeding last year's total of 336 pints by two.
Mayor David Briley made a proclamation declaring the event as Battle of the Badges Day in the city of Nashville as we depend on the American Red Cross and our citizens for donations of time and money to help save lives in our community.
"Where would we be without the Tennessee Titans supporting this great cause and giving us this awesome venue!" said Toney.
Each day, our first responders help save lives on the job and they joined together to help potentially save more lives from the blood collected during the event which represents only a small fraction of the important work that they do throughout the year.
About Saint Thomas Health
In Tennessee, Ascension's Saint Thomas Health operates nine hospitals in addition to a comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities that cover a 68-county area and employ more than 8,000 associates. Across the state, Saint Thomas Health provided more than $92 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2017. Serving Tennessee for 15 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world's largest Catholic health system, operating more than 2,600 sites of care – including 151 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Visit www.sthealth.com.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit RedCross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.