Every night of the year, whatever the weather, a group of dedicated and experienced motor-cyclists stands ready to deliver life-saving supplies of blood, medical supplies and equipment to NHS hospitals, healthcare sites and laboratories throughout North East England.
In the past 30 months, volunteer members of Northumbria Blood Bikes have answered 10,000 calls for help in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and Darlington – and there’s plenty of evidence that their commitment and skills have saved countless lives.
Rotarians in Newton Aycliffe have learned how the Northumbria Blood Bikes group came into being and were today making ‘an amazing contribution’ to emergency medical care in the region.
Rtn Angela Stevenson told guest speaker Michael Thompson, a rider and the group’s Vice Chair: “You provide an absolutely fantastic service.”
The group began live emergency courier operations in February 2014 with the declared intention of saving time, saving money and saving lives. Before then, hospitals had to rely on taxis or couriers to transfer urgent medical supplies or test samples between hospitals and other sites. Not only was this expensive, it could also prove unreliable since taxis were not always available at times of peak demand.
Northumbria Blood Bike riders quickly went from strength to strength. Today, there are 570 volunteers, 300 of them riders – all advanced riding certificate holders or undergoing training to acquire the award.
Their distinctive, high-powered motor-cycles can negotiate traffic congestion more easily than four-wheel vehicles and are much more economical. But the service they provide does not come cheap. It costs around £5000 per month with half of that amount spent on fuel. As well as nine motor-cycles, the group has four cars or vans (bikes can’t be used to transport blood at temperatures below 3 degrees) and a display trailer to help with the vital on-going fund-raising events that ensure the group’s survival.
The riders themselves receive no payment of any kind and no charge is made for the services they provide for the National Health Service.
As well as their all-year-round, 7pm to 7am on-call service, group riders make daily deliveries of blood supplies to the two Great North Air Ambulance helicopters which enable patients to be treated at the scene of an accident. The ‘Blood on Board’ (BoB) service was first used within 24 hours of it being launched in 2015 and records show that 18 ‘unexpected survivor’ patients are now alive thanks to the BoB initiative.
Michael (right) was introduced to Rotary members by Rtn Margaret Fenwick (pictured left) with club president Rtn Nora Scott.
Anyone wishing to support the work of the Northumbria Blood Bikes group can make a donation to Northumbria Blood Bikes, PO Box 344, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE6 9BQ