Police officers and firefighters took time out Tuesday afternoon and evening to help one another and others with a friendly competition in which there's no telling how many winners there will be.

Police officers and firefighters took time out Tuesday afternoon and evening to help one another and others with a friendly competition in which there’s no telling how many winners there will be.

The public servants took part in the American Red Cross’ annual Badges and Hoses Blood Drive with departments and individual groups challenging one another to see just how many pints of blood might be contributed. The Red Cross estimates that every time someone donates blood, he or she figures in saving the lives of three others.

Participation in the Pine Bluff Convention Center event had been light through mid-afternoon, but Red Cross officials expected a big increase. The agency’s Linda Smith said the activity always attracts a sizable number of donors and generates good-natured competition.

But emergency responders aren’t the only heroes who participate. Stopping by to show his support for the cause was regular blood contributor Charles Padgett, a 54-year-old Evergreen Packaging Company employee who’s been donating for “30 years or more.”

What motivates Padgett?

“My mother (Betty Padgett of Florida) raised me to help others whenever and wherever I can,” Padgett said. “And my wife (Susan Padgett) is a hospice nurse and I volunteer to help her. I just think I ought to do what I can to help others.”

Padgett made his visit after completing his work for the day.

“I’ve made some friends by donating blood,” he said with a smile as he pointed to several Red Cross workers.

Red Cross employees joining Smith at the blood draw were Fred Harris, Pam Harris, Jamye Johnson, Mechell Johnson, Sonya Kervin, Tina Lovelace and Kellica Williams. All are members of the agency’s Little Rock staff.