Continuing with the tradition first begun in 1999…
The Tubac Community Center hosted a county wide Red Cross Blood Drive. Saturday, February 12, 2021 was the first of four similar drives scheduled for this year. With the world’s most recognizable symbol on the side of their white Tradesman van, the Red Cross Team parked in front of our building, and in just 40 minutes transformed our largest meeting room into an efficient medical clinic. I witnessed an impressive amount of organization, coordination and team work. It’s quite the operation, and I wanted to know more about the people who make this happen day after day all over Southern Arizona.
Here is what I learned, and share now with Santa Cruz County.
Kristine Salazar -Team Charge
Kristina Salazar, the team “Charge” for this drive, has worked with the Red Cross for 4 years. She spends her weeks traveling all over southern Arizona from Tucson to Nogales Bisbee to Safford and all points in between. On a busy day in a large drive, they can collect from 60 to 70 pints of life saving blood. As the team charge, she is the point person for the group that is hosting the drive. The team charge changes from one drive to another.
Kristina enjoys working with her colleagues and particularly enjoys experiencing the different dynamics in each of the cities and towns they work in. She said each has its own personality, and though this is serious business, funny things happen every day.
When I asked Kristina and other team members what has changed about their Red Cross experience since Covid they were quick to answer. Masks, masks, masks. sanitizing every surface after every person, lots of gloves and wipes and more use of the Bloodmobile since losing venues to conduct Blood Drives.
There were five additional hard working team members. In their few spare moments I was able to corral some of the group and learn a little more about them…
Sara Kurick has been with the Red Cross for a year. She came from a Customer Service background and recently worked as a Physical Therapy Assistant. She decided an ideal job was one where she was able to work with people and have variety in her day. When an opportunity to attend a Red Cross Job Fair came up she “Why not?”. To her surprise the next thing she knew she was training to collect blood. She loves everything about her job, especially the fact that the what she is doing “matters” and it is never boring.
Sarah waxed philosophical when asked what she likes most about her job “It is awesome that people are rolling up their sleeves to give”. When the pandemic first started drives had to shut down for lack of venue and people were wary of the process. When the Red Cross began to test all collected blood for COVID-19 antibodies they experienced “a big increase in donors”. The test may indicate if a donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of developing symptoms.
Reina has been with the Red Cross since 2008. She has been part of a number of collection events at the Community Center. She said Tubac is her favorite place to come. “Everyone in Tubac is so kind and friendly” She said that donors remember the staff’s names and even their kids’ names. In the pre-Covid era there were fist bumps and happy hellos since many donors return to give blood several times a year. “It’s not like a big city”
Reina has been with the Red Cross since 2008.
Donna Reincke has been with the Red Cross for 16 years, the majority of it in the lab. She switched 2 years ago to field work and was tickled about the aspect of meeting so many different people. Though she is trained in all the aspects of the field collection she was conducting the initial intake at the Tuba drive Friday. Intake includes a brief health history, temperature check, blood pressure and quick blood prick to make sure that the donor has sufficient iron levels to give blood.
Ariel Gastelum-Rochin and Lillian Mujica
I wasn’t able to catch up for a conversation with Ariel and Lillian during this drive they were hard to pin down. I do know that both of them have been coming to the Community Center for many years and I’ll have another chance to visit with them when they and the rest of the team return on Saturday April 17th from 9 to 2.
Job Well Done by all the Red Cross Team Members
At the end of a long day the Red Cross Blood Drive team packed up all their gear back into their iconic white van. From a strictly accounting point of view, the day’s tally showed 21 units collected which could potentially save 63 lives. Though obviously tired, before they left, they agreed to pose for a picture and accept our thanks for once again “taking care of business.”
Pictured (L to R)
Reina Nunez, Kristina Salazar, Sara Kurick, Liliana Mujica, Ariel Gastelu,-Rochin, Not Pictured-Donna Reincke