It is a bit of a special ocassion as it is officially Bloodbike Awareness Day (#Bloodbikesday). This is the day when all groups affiliated to the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes make a fuss, cause a stir and generally blow their own trumpet with regard to the 100% voluntary service that they provide to #NHS hospitals out of hours and generally under cover of darkness.
Groups around the country are wearing out their digits on social media, riding between the hospitals & laboratories that they serve and even undertaking media interviews. All of this to raise awareness of the service we provide and ultimately to encourage more volunteers and donations.
I am a volunteer rider and publicity officer for SERV Wessex (@servwessex), the blood bike group covering Hampshire, South Wiltshire and parts of Dorset. I have been a member since 2011 and thoroughly enjoy the work. I have seen the group grow from having one marked bike and serving a single hospital in Portsmouth, to having a fleet of five bikes and a van and serving hospitals and labs across the three counties.
For the last two years, we have been providing a regular 48hr replenishment service to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance which has resulted in them providing us with a new fully equipped and Home Office approved Yamaha FJR 1300 blood bike to undertake these trips. Blood is transported in a specially designed box, developed as a result of the US Military’s requirements in Afghanistan, from the Pathology Labs at Southampton General Hospital to the @HIOWAA base at Thruxton Airfield near Andover. The fresh blood is exchanged for the old blood on the helicopter, which is then returned to the hospital so it can go back into use before it expires. This can be a three or four hour round trip for our volunteers, often on their own bike and can be a little nippy in the winter months.
Our volunteer riders and controllers provide this service 365 days a year between 7pm and 6am and 24/7 at weekends and banks holidays. If you have a few hours to spare and would like to join us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.
My employer, Captec Ltd, upon whose website this blog resides, have been very supportive of my charitable efforts, allowing me to print my newsletters on corporate systems and tolerating regular short notice absences so that I can take part in events, for which I am grateful.
More grateful are those patients who have received lifesaving blood products, donated breast milk or other medical supplies delivered in the early hours by an anonymous rider who had no idea who they were or why they needed it, just that it had to be done.