Hitting the Road to Donate (Part Four): The Unsung Roadies of Puget Sound Blood Center

April 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

Guest Blog Post by Steven Pogge

Thanks to Steven Pogge for chronicling his mission to donate at all 11 donor centers in Western Washington, and for acknowledging staff and volunteers at each center. In this post, he honors two Mobile Assistants: Tom Plantenberg and Dan Deyour.

There is a small group of people with the Blood Center that have been given the title of Mobile Assistant or M.A. for short. These are the men and women who are in charge of driving to, setting up and tearing down the mobile drive. I like to think of them as the Unsung Roadies. They are a combination of many things, keeper of the supplies, interior designers of the draw area, long haul truck drivers, janitorial engineers, and phlebotomist helpers and keepers of the juice.

Like good roadies, they are usually the first to arrive and last to leave the draw. From ice and snow in December, cold February mornings, April downpours and hot August afternoons, they trek from the van to draw without a whimper. The slog can sometime be to the top of multistory buildings, across expansive grounds of state office buildings, under the steps of a high school auditorium or through an underground parking maze that would confuse a mole. Even when the location is easy to find they sometimes have to obtain security clearance, pass through a metal detector and survive the scrutiny of uniformed guards, just to enter the front door.

A good M.A. has a Global Positioning System along with an avalanche beacon built into their brain. Not only do they need to find these remote locations but they then have to negotiate a huge moving van into spaces a VW bug would have trouble fitting into.

Getting to the location is only half the fun … Imagine having to move a one-bedroom apartment to a new location each morning and then packing it up again at the end of the day. That will give you an idea of the amount work involved. It is a physical workout where one needs the strength of a NFL linebacker, the quickness of an NBA point guard, and the toughness of a NHL goalie.

In my quest to donate and volunteer around Puget Sound, I have run across two M.A.s that I think are the best Roadies around. They are the Men of Mobile 7, Tom Plantenberg and Dan Deyour. Whenever I arrive at one of their drives, I am always greeted with warm welcome and usually a good-natured jab about my showing up a few minutes late. Part of the joy of volunteering with these guys has been being able to joke and kid each other in good fun. Tom always has a pot of coffee that would make a Norwegian cringe. I have the honor of being one of the few to have actually drunk a cup of Tom’s coffee after it has set for a few hours. I was fortunate that the brew was still in liquid form. Dan on the other hand doesn’t have a pot of coffee waiting in the mornings but instead he is brimming with a recent story that would be unbelievable if it happened to anyone other then Dan. In most of these stories, Dan is on the receiving end of some catastrophic event that would have others running for cover. Dan keeps a sense of humor through it all and you can hear his deep explosive laugh across the room every so often. His laugh is sort of a cross between a Santa’s HOHOHO and the breaching of an Orca whale. It always brings a smile to my face.

One aspect of this job that Tom and Dan are sometimes required to perform is the long road trip. Like the early explorers of the high seas, they have been known to venture to the very end of Puget Sound Blood Center territory. It can be all the way to the northern bounds around Port Angeles, where loggers are known to have veins the size of a #2 pencils, to as far down as the Vancouver area, within sight of the Columbia River. No matter when the call comes, Dan and Tom are always there, setting up the draws to supply western Washington with new blood every day. Thank you guys for the great work you do. You are the Lewis and Clark of South Puget sound, the Master Movers, the unsung heroes of the Blood Center.