Behind the badges

 Between cops and firefighters and EMTs, I happen to know a lot of people who wear badges. I have the utmost respect for them, but also like them for they people they are. Which always makes this annual event a tough choice for me.

Today is the “Heroes Behind the Badges” blood drive at theSanfordWorthingtonMedicalCenter, and donors are asked if they want to dedicate their donation to Worthington/Nobles County law enforcement or the Worthington Fire Department/EMS team. The teams compete to see who can recruit the most blood donors, and the winners get a trophy — and a year’s worth of bragging rights.

Here’s my dilemma. I’m a member of a fire department, so I want those guys to win, but I cover a lot of cop-related stuff, so I want those guys to win. When I climb into the Community Blood Bank bus, I have a hard time choosing which team to designate my donation toward.

Except for one particular year, when I was forced into my decision. I happened to walk into the hospital and register just a few minutes ahead of Chief Mike Cumiskey and Captain Chris Dybevick. They stood behind me, both in uniform, as the guy at the registration booth asked which team I had chosen. I glanced back at them, and yep, they were both waiting for my answer. When I hesitated, the two of them, in what seemed to be a synchronized movement, rested their hands on their weapons.

Sheesh! Strong-armed by the law!

Yep, I was coerced into casting my lot in with the cops that year. I paid them back by taking a picture of them as they were lying back in the bus donating blood.

Blood donations tend be to lower in the summer, when need is high, so I encourage everyone to come out and donate. All donors receive a free Subway sandwich, which is pretty nifty, and the process is quick, easy and painless, in my experience. Donors must be 17 years of age or older, weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good general health. Walk-ins are welcome, but you can call and make an appointment if you would like at 372-3319.

Feel free to designate either team, and don’t fall for coercion like I did. The donor event runs from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 to 6:30 p.m. Be a hero in your own right and save a life by donating blood.

Speaking of cops and stuff, I was out at the annual Nite to Unite atPioneerVillageTuesday, and, as usual, was impressed at how hard the Worthington Police Department and support staff worked to make it a great event. I am continually impressed by the community policing efforts they make, getting neighbors and citizens to help them help everyone.

Like everyone else, I love watching the K-9 demonstrations, because the dogs look so fierce and serious while they are working, but I’ve been lucky enough to have had plenty of opportunities to sit and chat with the handlers while scratching a furry ear or getting doggy hugs.

I had to chuckle at Laika and Officer Randy Liepold when he was talking to the crowd about obedience training. Having just showed off her obedience skills, Laika tried waiting patiently for her reward, a favorite toy, but when Randy stayed occupied with his audience, she nudged his pocket a few times gently, then more insistently until he finally pulled out her ball and handed it over.

Content, she settled down and chewed her toy. What many people didn’t notice was Thor’s reaction. I was standing in front of the squad car used by Officer Brett Wiltrout and Thor, and when Laika got her toy, Thor barked a few times in protest. Apparently he thought it was unfair that she had her toy, but he didn’t have his yet.

A short time later, he got his chance to shine, demonstrating to the audience his ability to capture a “bad guy” by jumping up onto a car and dragging the bad guy down, earning his own toy.

For any who missed it this year, I highly recommend attending the Nite to Unite event in the future. It’s a great way to get to know your local authorities and neighbors.