There will be three opportunities this week to donate blood in Miami beginning with the two-day Guns 'N Hoses blood drive.

MIAMI - Miami's first responders are issuing a call to the community to participate in their two-day Guns 'N Hoses blood drive supporting the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI).

Aug. 8-9 citizens can donate at the First Baptist Church located at 24 A St. SW in Miami between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m on Tuesday, and noon to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Adding a fun, competitive twist, donors can also designate their donation to either the fire department or law enforcement as they look to top each other with the most donors.

To donate, teenagers must weigh at least 125 lbs. and be 16 years old with signed parental permission or 17 years old. Adults 18 and over must weigh at least 110 lbs.

All blood types are needed. However, O-negative donors also known as "universal type" donors are especially encouraged to participate.

According to an OBI press release about the event, while only nine percent of the population is O-negative, this "universal type" can be used at accident scenes or emergency departments when there is not time to identify a patient’s specific blood type.

For the August drive, donors will receive a pass for two to Safari Joe’s H20 Water Park, formerly known as Big Splash, and a free special-edition Guns ‘N Hoses T-shirt.

“Miami first responders see first-hand the daily need for blood at INTEGRIS Miami Hospital when those they rescue require lifesaving treatment,” said Jan Laub, Executive Director, OBI Tulsa. “We can’t say enough about the service they provide, and we owe it to them to do our part in making sure blood is available to save those whom they have risked their lives to rescue.”

Appointments for the Guns 'N Hoses blood drive may be made by calling 1-877-340-8777 or visiting obi.org.

Another opportunity

The American Red Cross is also providing a donation opportunity in Miami on Thursday, Aug. 10 at the First United Methodist Church, 200 B St. NW from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The non-profit issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations in early July, and while seeing an increase in donation appointments says more are still urgently needed to meet patient needs and replenish blood supplies.

“The blood supply is like a cell phone battery, it constantly needs recharging,” said Jan Hale, communications manager of the Red Cross Southwest Blood Services Region. “We sincerely appreciate those who have responded to the call to help save lives and encourage those who haven’t to consider rolling up a sleeve and give the gift of life. It only takes about an hour but can mean a lifetime for patients.”

As a special thank you, the Red Cross will email a $5 Target eGiftCard to donors through Aug. 31.

To schedule an appointment to donate through the Red Cross, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Donors can also reduce the time it takes to donate through the Red Cross by completing a RapidPass online health history questionnaire.

Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor for the Miami News-Record. Contact her at dballard@miaminewsrecord.com and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.