By Matthew Jervis, American Red Cross Volunteer
The American Red Cross is responsible for delivering a significant amount of blood products across the United States. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Whether it be for a traumatic injury, cancer treatment or chronic illness, this lifesaving product of the human body – which cannot be replicated artificially – must be processed and safely transported to local hospitals for patients in need.
Transporting blood to patients requires a coordinated effort conducted by Red Cross staff and volunteers. Biomedical Transportation Specialists are a vital part of the Red Cross’ mission to deliver lifesaving blood products. These dedicated community members volunteer their time to ensure that patients throughout San Diego County receive these time-sensitive donations.
While the blood products are processed and packaged, samples from each blood donation undergo a variety of testing. Once manufacturing and testing are complete, it is transported by staff to the local blood processing center, where it is divided into three parts: blood cells, platelets and plasma. Because of this process, one blood donation can potentially save more than one life.
After all testing is completed and the blood products are processed and packaged, Biomedical Transportation Specialists step in. During four-hour shifts, these dedicated volunteers deliver blood products to 16 local hospitals. With a need for delivery 24 hours a day, shifts are flexible and available all the time.
Biomedical Transportation Specialist volunteers are essential in providing life-saving care to thousands of patients in San Diego County by delivering the blood products to patients in local hospitals.
According to local Red Cross Fleet Specialist Mike Lake, some of the volunteers he oversees are retired professionals, students and military service members. The uniting factor between them all is a common desire to give back to their community in a tangible and powerful way.
Biomedical Transportation Specialists are asked to commit to at least two shifts per month and must have a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. Additional requirements are at least three years of driving experience and a clean driving record as well as the ability to lift up to 45 pounds.
For more information and to apply to be a Biomedical Transportation Specialist, visit redcross.org/volunteer.