Florida Blood Services Team Leader Mary Scott talks about a variety of improvements on the bloodmobiles in services.
Mary Scott, who has worked for Florida Blood Services for 15 years, is a hands-on supervisor who personally and professionally understands the value of giving blood.
“I was a donor. As a donor, it’s just a point of doing a service and saving a life. As an employee, I know the health benefits, because I have received blood, and my daughter has received units. Both were in a lifesaving event. So I know the importance of donating and the effects that can have on a person if the unit potentially isn’t there and especially when they are there, because that is what saved my life and my daughter’s,” she said.
Today, the FBS team leader for Pinellas and Pasco counties oversees staff members who are on the mobiles every day.
“I go out there to make sure staff is following the policies and procedures. But I do pitch in and help. This week I was at Publix. Registering the donors, greeting them,” said Scott, who started with FBS as a phlebotomist working on a bloodmobile on 34th Street.
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Scott had been a medic in the military.
“You are dealing with a lot of people who are badly injured, and I wanted to switch to working with healthy people and still be in the nursing arena. This was a way to do that and make that transition. I always wanted to be in the lifesaving business,” Scott said.
The agency has 22 mobile units at the headquarters off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and four in Pasco County, operating seven days a week. Convenience brings people to the units whether they are the large six-bed bus or the smaller bloodmobile. Eighty percent of the agency’s red cells come from the mobile units. It’s all about saving time and gas.
“The mobile units go to where their workplace is – churches, movie theaters. It’s out there where they are at so it’s a lot more convenient to donate on the mobile units. Then we do a lot of promotionals on the mobiles. We go out and do Wal-Marts, movie theaters. Publix is one we added; Best Buy,” Scott said.
Through the years Scott has seen all types of changes and improvements on the bloodmobiles, as has Dan Eberts, FBS communications manager.
“The environment has really improved over the years. We’ve made them nicer. The color schemes. The way the staff dresses. The music. We try to make it a warm environment, a welcoming environment,” Eberts said.
The bloodmobiles have televisions.
“That’s something we didn’t have when I started out,” Scott said. “We can put in a movie.”
The bloodmobiles are more reliable in recent years. All carry two generators.
“We have regular servicing on the buses. We don’t have breakdowns like we used to. It’s so costly. When you are on a blood drive and the bus dies, you just lost that drive for the day,” Eberts said.
The amount of donors depends on the drive and other factors. Sometimes people will wait in line to donate on the bloodmobiles, especially during the promotions at Wal-Mart and movie theaters for which FBS provides gifts to donors.
“We were at Home Shopping Network the other day and we got 40. It just depends on the base we go to,” Scott said.
One of our largest drives was at Pinellas Park High School. Four bloodmobiles and a portable mobile unit, which was set up in the inside of their auditorium, were at the school, serving 200 donors, Scott said.
“Depending on what we have for the school year, we don’t always get that,” Scott said. “That’s the most I have seen.”
Eberts said high school students as a whole are the blood center’s largest donor group.
“Young people making a difference,” he said.
The bloodmobile is a valuable marketing tool for FBS.
“Years ago I did surveys, and the number one reason why you come to the bloodmobile? ‘The day I saw the bus,’ It’s a rolling billboard,” Eberts said.
The bloodmobiles also routinely draw first time donors.
“We usually alert the staff – first time donor. Let everybody know to be extra attentive to them and explain everything more thoroughly. People do that all the time and it’s just about them coming in to do a service. We just make sure they understand the whole procedure of everything we are doing and just try to make it a fun experience,” Scott said.