Have you or someone you know had surgery? Do you know someone who has sickle cell disease or has been injured in a car accident? These are just a few of the people who’ve benefitted from the work Dave Milam and more than 40 other volunteer drivers do in Ohio.
American Red Cross Hospital Services delivers blood and blood products to both city and county hospitals. As a driver who does city runs, Dave is the face of the Red Cross at hospitals all over Columbus. With a good driving record and a flexible, polite disposition, he delivers his precious cargo once or twice per week during shifts that last about three hours.
“I enjoy it because I get to meet a lot of different people,” Dave says. “I get to see a lot of different things.”
Although his role may seem simple, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes in a process that never stops. It all starts with the generous people who donate blood, whether at fixed donation sites or during blood drives. Hospital Services drivers deliver this liquid gold to the Red Cross facility in Columbus where it is processed.
That’s where Dave comes in. Before he starts his run, he picks up his paperwork and inspects the vehicle he’ll use. This is an important part of the blood transportation process because blood is perishable, and the delay caused by a disabled vehicle could mean that the blood/blood products are no longer safe to use. He then loads up the boxes for delivery, and he’s off.
That’s the daily routine. But human needs don’t respect a schedule, and hospitals call in daily for unscheduled deliveries. These are classified as either “stat” or “ASAP.” For a “stat” run, the blood/blood products must leave the Red Cross facility within 30 minutes of the hospital’s call; for an “ASAP” run, the lag time is two hours. Once, says Transportation Coordinator Lauren Beggs, the need was so urgent that the delivery merited a police escort!
Lauren is a key support behind all this activity. Among many other responsibilities, she makes sure the drivers are trained, hospitals’ orders are delivered, vehicles are clean and in tip-top condition – and that the drivers’ small lounge is well-stocked and welcoming.
“Polite” and “flexible” are adjectives she uses to describe what she looks for in a driver. She’s found it in Dave.
“He’s always been very easy-going, but active enough that he gives me input,” says Lauren, who appreciates his drive for continuous improvement that matches her own.
The volunteer drivers’ gift of time translates into savings for the Red Cross. Lauren estimates that an average volunteer’s single run to the county hospitals saves the organization an estimated $200 to $250 dollars.
For the volunteer drivers, the payment is intangible. “I enjoy the delivery of blood because the only reason I’m delivering blood is because hospitals requested it,” Dave says.
Do you like to drive? Do you want to help people but prefer working alone? This might be just the volunteer position for you! Visit http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities to learn more.