By Clarice Nassif Ransom
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood donated from compassionate individuals to survive a traumatic injury, to help overcome cancer, or to address a chronic illness. Many times, a blood donation from the public is a gift of life to others in need. But in addition to lifesaving blood only being available thanks to generous blood donors, the timely delivery of that blood to local hospitals depends on the dedication and selflessness of Red Cross volunteers.
Meet Tom Humphreys, a regular blood donor (95 pints so far and more to go) who is also a blood transportation volunteer. Tom has been volunteering for the American Red Cross as a Biomedical Transportation Specialist since 2020 in addition to being a longtime blood donor. Volunteer Biomedical Transportation Specialists deliver life-saving blood products from blood drives to Red Cross distribution centers and from distribution centers to hospitals, using a Red Cross-owned vehicle.
“I donate blood regularly for the American Red Cross,” says Tom. “I found that there was a need for blood transportation volunteers. I also like driving so this seemed like a good fit for me.”
As a volunteer Biomedical Transportation Specialist, Tom says his job is to pick up and deliver boxes of blood products. He adds that there is always a need for blood for patients in hospitals, and employees in the hospital blood banks are always grateful for his deliveries.
“The need is great, it's a very easy position, it saves the American Red Cross a lot of money, and you will get great satisfaction in that you're playing a big role in saving lives,” says Tom.
In addition to being fulfilling, Tom says his role as a volunteer Biomedical Transportation Specialist is easy to do and safe.
“One very nice thing about this position is you set your own schedule,” says Tom. “The American Red Cross provides masks and gloves for COVID precautions, and for the most part, you are on your own and not in contact with others. You do have very minimal contact - but nothing really close - when you are actually getting the boxes [of blood] and dropping them off.”
For Tom, who volunteers for the Red Cross of the National Capital and Greater Chesapeake Region, one type of shift is reporting to the Red Cross biomedical distribution center in Baltimore, Maryland, to pick up deliveries for local hospitals. At times, he travels to additional hospitals in Virginia - and sometimes Pennsylvania. Another type of shift, according to Tom, is to go to various blood donation centers or community blood drives and pick up boxes of blood to be delivered to the American Red Cross distribution center in Baltimore, Maryland, for processing.
Tom encourages anyone interested to consider volunteering for the American Red Cross as a Biomedical Transportation Specialist.
Help be a life saver in 2022!
To schedule a blood donation, log onto: redcrossblood.org
To become a volunteer Biomedical Transportation Specialist, log onto: https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/deliver-blood.html