When Ken Takata retired from the Hawthorne School District in 2021, he knew he was too young and had too much energy to enjoy a leisurely retirement. Having been an elementary school teacher for 23 years and a middle school principal for eight, Ken knew the impact volunteer service could have on people and communities – he decided to start spreading that kind of good around him.
Ken knew about American Red Cross relief services and wanted to deploy to help those in need following a hurricane in Florida, but Ken realized the timing might not work to help in Florida, due to the time needed for the onboarding process. Instead, he looked for other ways to volunteer with the Red Cross.
One of the opportunities he discovered was Blood Transportation Specialist in the Culver City area. The transportation specialist position is a vital role that requires volunteers to pick up human blood, plasma, and platelet donations from the Red Cross blood center in Pomona and deliver the blood products to hospitals throughout Southern California. This role is essential not only because of the cargo being delivered but also because the Red Cross is responsible for collecting and distributing about 40% of the nation’s blood supply. At such a high percentage from one organization, it’s no wonder more volunteer blood transportation specialists are needed throughout Southern California, especially in the Pomona vicinity.
Volunteers can sign up for two different types of shifts: STAT runs or regular scheduled runs. STAT runs deliver donations to hospitals for patients in immediate need. STAT shifts usually last four hours, with volunteers delivering to different hospitals throughout the LA region; the amount of deliveries can vary with every shift. While urgent, STAT shifts do not require drivers to rush to hospitals like an ambulance.
Regular scheduled runs send volunteers to the same seven hospitals to drop off donated blood products. Because of the number of deliveries, this shift is usually longer than four hours but more predictable.
I was lucky enough to join Ken on a shortened STAT run – it was a good primer on what the position entailed, and provided a first-hand view of the position’s ease; a very accessible way for someone interested in volunteering for a lifesaving cause.