David Strom, American Red Cross
Saving lives isn’t just some abstract concept for the American Red Cross. Volunteer Brian Minter not only delivers lifesaving blood to people he’ll never meet, he is directly responsible for saving one specific life.
Brian is the manufacturing transportation supervisor for the Missouri-Arkansas region of the Red Cross, coordinating the movement of blood products collected from donors and ensuring they are transported to various hospital blood banks. He oversees a vast transportation network that, he admits, “is a brutal chain of custody.”
Boxes of blood are delivered from one part of the region to another, whether it be one shipment across town or a bulk delivery to a neighboring metro area. Five years ago, before volunteers took on the task, paid couriers and professional truck drivers moved most of the blood donations.
“When I first started, we had three volunteers helping with this process and running a few routes. Now we have more than 100 volunteers driving more than 250 routes per month.”
The volunteer cadre and route design were both Brian’s ideas to save money and to gain better quality control over this process. The St. Louis chapter alone saves hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by using volunteers instead of paid couriers. St. Louis is one of a handful of national testing and distribution sites, and there is a lot of blood to move around.
If you spend any time around Brian, you quickly discover that he loves logistics. He has the right personality to handle the many phone calls and problems that crop up from distribution centers and hospitals, as well as with the calls and texts from drivers who are lost or stuck in traffic. Most of his work is coordinating and managing blood deliveries, but he continues to take a few regular driving shifts each month. “Keeps me grounded,” he said.
Brian touches thousands of lives indirectly, but he played a crucial role in one particularly powerful story. In July, 2021, Brian scheduled a Saturday and Sunday shift for a young 25-year-old airman working at nearby Scott Air Force base. The young man had been a volunteer driver for the previous year and had completed his Saturday shift without issues. But on Sunday morning, Brian received a text message from the volunteer saying wouldn’t be coming in that day because he planned to kill himself that morning.
Recalling the moment, Brian said, “My dad always told me to stay ready and always be ready, because then you won’t have to get ready.”
He knew the young volunteer had recently moved to off-base housing and relayed his new address to base security. They found him before he could overdose and revived him in time to save his life. Today, the young man’s mental health is much improved, and he is back volunteering as a driver.
“That young man clearly texted the absolute right person,” Brian said, “It was a cry for help, to see if someone was listening. And I was.”
In recognition of his compassionate and heroic actions, Brian Minter received both the national Level 1 and Level 2 American Red Cross Biomedical Services Excellence Presidential Awards in a ceremony at the national headquarters facility in Washington, D.C.
Blood services transportation specialists are always needed. To learn more about this important volunteer opportunity go to https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/deliver-blood.html or contact your local Red Cross chapter.