FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The blood supply in Arkansas remains low after donation rates dropped ​during the pandemic.

Thursday’s Boots and Badges Blood Drive in Pea Ridge hosted by first responders and the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is trying to address this shortage.

This year’s Boots and Badges Blood Drive in Pea Ridge gave people the opportunity to donate blood and save lives, but also to participate in a friendly competition between the city’s fire and police departments. When people arrived they were able to choose “Team Police” or “Team Fire” before rolling up their sleeves and giving blood.

One donor can save up to three lives by adding to Arkansas’ blood reserve, which Andrea Johnson with the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks said is too low for comfort.

Johnson said bolstering that supply is critical, since her organization is the only blood provider for Northwest Arkansas hospitals.

“This blood from this blood drive stays here locally, so if we don’t keep those reserves full and someone is in an accident or injured we won’t have any blood to give,” said Lieutenant John Langham with the Pea Ridge Police Department.

Since donations slowed down during the pandemic with lower turnouts to in-person events than before, Johnson said it’s been hard to catch up with the need for blood in Arkansas.

“There’s a whole different work life balance now, so we’re experiencing different challenges on how can we still collect the blood that we need and get people to come to us a little bit more? That’s why we’re doing a drive like this,” said Johnson.

The Boots and Badges Blood Drive is from 10 AM to 4 PM at the First Baptist Church in Pea Ridge, but if you missed it, you can always donate to the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks at one of its centers.