Licking County resident Bill Slocum is committed to his Red Cross volunteer job as a Transportation Specialist. “There are lots of things you can do in life and I like to do things that have a direct impact,” he said. His work definitely has a direct impact as he transports blood from the collection sites in Licking County and neighboring counties, taking the units directly to the blood center lab in Columbus for processing.
Years ago, as a board member for United Way, he was asked to become familiar with three organizations. The Red Cross was one of them. Seeing the value in all Red Cross services, Slocum started doing transportation of blood products and as well as grant writing for disaster services.
Slocum has played many roles as a Red Cross volunteer. He has completed disaster training and served as a member of the disaster and first aid service team (FAST) teams, volunteered as a transportation specialist delivering blood products since 2018, and given time to the Smoke Alarm Project. In addition to sharing his time, he is a long-time blood donor.
He explains the transportation volunteers sign up for a shift to meet their own schedules. Using the official Red Cross vehicle, the driver goes to the site of a local blood drive and picks up the coolers carrying collected units of blood. He immediately drives to the Red Cross lab in Columbus. Slocum’s assignment is a 75-mile trip from Newark.
He also picks up from blood drives in Coshocton and Northern Licking County. At times, Slocum adds, the drivers do “transfers,” moving blood that might get to be outdated to a facility where it can be used immediately. The workers are kept safe as staff follow CDC guidelines with masking and hand sanitizer at all times.
Although the task seems simple, it is important, he said, “I think of the collected blood that I am transporting as possibly saving someone’s life when it is ultimately distributed to a hospital, or just maybe will be there for a member of my family or a friend if needed.”
As for encouraging others to get involved in transporting blood, Slocum has these thoughts.
“I like to think of a volunteer blood transportation driver as being a part of a lifesaving continuum that begins with a blood donor, continues with the collection site volunteers and Red Cross collection personnel, moves onward with the help of the Red Cross lab personnel, and is then ultimately delivered to hospitals or other locations by volunteer drivers or Red Cross transportation personnel. Being part of this continuum is very satisfying, especially when I have a chance to thank the blood donors for coming out and donating. I like to let them know that I will soon be driving to the lab with blood donations and those donations, along with theirs, may be on their way to a hospital to help someone within a day or so. “
Blog post written by Sandy Shirey
To become a Red Cross volunteer, like Bill, go to redcross.org/volunteer today to sign up.