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Southwick police, fire out for blood

Southwick Fore Chief Russ Anderson, at left, plays tug of war with Police Chief Kevin A. Bihop with the Police vs. Fire blood drive trophy. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

SOUTHWICK – The rivalry between the Southwick Police and Fire departments has taken a turn, and the chiefs are out for blood.

Fire Chief Russ Anderson and Police Chief Kevin A. Bishop are continuing the friendly competition between the town’s safety departments with the annual Police vs. Fire Blood Drive.

The drive, which takes place now through Sept. 11, benefits the region through the Baystate Medical Center blood donation center in Springfield.

Amy Osgood, blood donor recruiter for Baystate, said since 2015, the rivalry has brought in 96 units of blood, saving as many as 200 lives in Western Massachusetts.

Throughout the drive, anyone can donate blood at Baystate and designate Team Police or Team Fire as the “recipient.” On Sept. 11, a blood mobile will be at the Southwick safety complex on Depot Street from 3-8 p.m. Osgood suggested signing up for a donation time for anyone planning to donate in Southwick that day.

“People can walk in, but preference will be given to those with an assigned time,” she said. “Friends and family can donate, but they do have to pick a side.”

The fire department has won the competition since 2015 and keeps the coveted trophy at the station. Bishop said the department has the unfair advantage of having more employees; there are about 50 fire personnel to the police department’s 27.

Bishop said, despite the numbers being stacked against them this is the police department’s year.

“The fire chief has given us a two-person advantage,” Bishop said, laughing.

Anderson said the fire department is all-in, especially since his staff works with Baystate on a daily basis.

Bishop joked that it shouldn’t come into play and the police will prevail.

“It’s a fun competition, but it is a serious matter that helps save lives,” said Bishop.

Osgood said donors can save time by filling out the Pre-Donation Questionnaire on their phone or computer prior to going out to the Bloodmobile. She said if you choose to complete your questionnaire this way (before going out on the bus) please note that it can only be done on the same day as your donation. Donors can answer the questionnaire on the Bloodmobile via their iPads.

Anderson said he was confident the fire crew would come through once again.

“Last year was close, though,” he said, recalling that the police collected 16 units and the fire department collected 17 units.

Hope E. Tremblay can be reached at [email protected]


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