By Aidan Rubio
Patty Montmorency first became involved with the Red Cross at the age of 16 by helping her mother, who was an RN at the time. Montmorency would help her mother receive, package, and process blood from donors in Albany, Oregon.
Now 63, Montmorency has been back with the Red Cross for more than 10 years, filling the position of Transportation Specialist Lead at the Oakland Blood Center.
In May of this year, she received the prestigious Clara Barton Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership from the American Red Cross of the Bay Area.
As Transportation Specialist, Montmorency is tasked with transporting blood products from one location to another. As she was reminded on one very memorable day, it's a position that can — and does — save lives.
On that particular day, Montmorency had just arrived for a delivery shift when one of the employees greeted her by saying: “I’m so glad you are here! This blood has to be delivered to a baby within four hours, and it must not stop moving or else it will coagulate.” After hearing this, Montmorency was stunned by the importance of this task, and surprised by the fact that her colleagues had specifically chosen her to execute it.
Montmorency usually does not know anything regarding the recipient of the blood she is entrusted to deliver. "But in this case, I was given some information about the patient, and even the small amount of knowledge I had quickly humanized the patient and created a sort of emotional bond with the baby we were all working to keep alive."
Not only does Montmorency work to transport blood and blood products, but she also plays a crucial role in building and maintaining the entire group of drivers who volunteer at the Blood Center in Oakland. She recruits, schedules, trains, and manages other drivers.
Montmorency is so dedicated to the Red Cross's blood services efforts that she has even developed her own training procedures in order to help new drivers — and with that experience, authored the first-ever volunteer driver manual for Red Cross use in Northern California. The manual has procedures and delivery directions to each of the many hospitals and labs — and she keeps them all up to date.
It should come as no surprise then that, because of Montmorency's leadership and dedication, many different departments within Biomedical Services in the Red Cross's Northern California Coastal Region rely on her to help advance their operations.
While Montmorency's involvement with the Red Cross today is no longer focused on collecting and packaging blood like she did with her mother those many years ago, she still exudes the same passion for her Red Cross work.
What is the source of that passion? Montmorency believes that the core values of the Red Cross closely align with her personal values and are “easy to embrace.” She also gushes about the quality of the people with whom she works.
"I am so grateful for the many positive connections I have developed with my wonderful Red Cross colleagues and with the hospital clients that we all support," she says. "With the tremendous support of our blood donors, our work ultimately serves many, many patients — people we never meet, but who really depend on the Red Cross doing its job."
About the author: Aidan Rubio wrote this article while interning during the summer of 2016 for the American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley.