Manchester Blood Bikes – A Few Days in the Saddle…

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  • #72354
    Radar
    Moderator

    My old friend Steve is a very experienced biker with a long history of riding and when the chance came to do something positive with his passion for bikes he leapt at it. We all see the Bloodbikers out and about on their fully liveried bikes and riding and presenting themselves in a very professional manner, but they are not professionals, they are in fact volunteers and work amazingly hard to support the NHS in so many different ways, including transporting Covid tests! So I thought it would be insightful and interesting to follow Steve’s exploits over a few typical shifts on these damp, dark autumnal days. Have a read, take it in and next time you see one of the Bloodbikers out and about perhaps give them a nod of thanks. Even better follow the just giving link at the bottom of the article… 

    Two questions I get asked, why do you think it’s okay to take the livelihoods of Bloodbank drivers by providing this service for free? Why don’t you leave it to the experts? In response to the first question is simply, we don’t. We provide the service Bloodbanks cant provide, they shift thousands of gallons of blood around the country and coordinate the collection. We take an emergency 10 litres at 3am in the morning to save the life of a stabbing victim/car crash victim/emergency operation situation. We work alongside the NHS to provide the service free of charge when they would normally have to pay for a taxi or a carrier, a resource the NHS simply doesn’t have. We aren’t blood experts but we are advanced riders who undergo specialist initial and ongoing procedural training for the products we transport. We have dedicated Bloodbox covers, milk box covers, air ambulance equipment, sample pouches, etc and are trained on how to use all of them. We do the job professionally and take the business very seriously. Do you think a local taxi firm will have this level of training and equipment? Due to the current pandemic and its drain on the NHS we operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year, we are there ready and available when we are needed. We are Bloodbikes but we aren’t just about the blood, we carry platelets, plasma, tissue samples, Covid 19 samples, test swabs, human donor breast milk, medication and equipment to hospitals, care homes, hospices and private patient addresses day and night. My day starts when I get home from work on Friday evening and a bike has been dropped off, my office for the next few days is a Honda NC750. The bike is chosen for the reasons that its cheap and economical to run and work on, its small, nippy and easily maneuverable through traffic and Honda reliable, it doesn’t blow your frock up or set your pulse racing. Other charities use BMWs or Yams, this is our weapon of choice.

    Steve with his NC750

    Such a good looking chap…

    My shift starts at 7pm tonight so first things first, P.O.W.D.E.R.S checks and equipment check to make sure everything is present, correct and working, this all has to be reported back… in fact let’s get this out of the way now, we report everything through an app, everything! I get a call to do a regular booked job, collecting samples from a haematology department at one hospital and delivering to a different hospital. We do this every night, we have several regular jobs that have to be covered including the air ambulance. I set off at around 19.30pm, collect and deliver the samples, I’m done by 21.15pm, all the bikes are tracked so the Duty Controller knows our whereabouts and can dispatch us most efficiently. Outside during a dry break in the weather, just dropped some samples at some time late in the night As I leave I get a call to collect blood from the Air Ambulance and deliver back to the hospital. We do this job every night as a minimum and if there has been an incident where the ambulance has spun up to an emergency we may provide additional services through the day. After collection I arrive at our normal night entrance at the hospital to find Covid has locked the door so a bit of a trek ensues via the main entrance, stairs, lifts corridors to get to the Haematology department to drop my precious cargo off. Quick chat with the lab techs then back off to find the bike. No further jobs are phoned through so I head for home where I wait until midnight when my shift finishes. Early night though, back on at 9am in the morning. Saturday morning and up bright and early, dog walked and bike checked ready for my shift to start at 9am, it’s bouncing down, blowing a gale due to some Irish originating storm and generally pish weather for bikes but we only dispatch the vans as a last resort as they are more costly to run and defeats the object. It is the riders choice to ride and their choice to pull the plug. I’ve ridden to Wales in freezing fog, snow and ice to camp in February in the past so a bit of wind and rain won’t stop me. (Although snow and ice will stop bloodbikes, we are not allowed to ride)! Anyway its not long before my first job comes through, blood test sample run from a home to the hospital for analysis. When I arrive I’m told they have just phoned another job through, Covid19 samples. I pack them all up, complete some paperwork then I’m off. Barely out the door when the next job is being phoned through to me, care home, hospital, care home, hospital, hospice, hospital with blood samples, covid19 samples and medication.

    In between calls I nip to see a friend at a local business who has kindly offered to take in one of our collection tins and do a picture for this website and Facebook page; BikeTyres 247, great guy and fantastic business for tyres, servicing and repairs based in Bury, Gtr Manchester.

    Popping in for a brew…

    This is me for the day now, I do get home a couple of times to dry off, warm up and get some fuel & fluids inside me but we are struggling a bit as we are a driver short and I am the only rider on duty at the moment. My shift finishes at 22.00 but no time to relax with a few beers for the weekend…. I am back on again 9am Sunday morning. Sunday morning starts with a full English followed by a controlled drug collection for a care home. Collect controlled drug register from the care home, go to the hospital pharmacy, sign many a form, hang around and then return to the home with the medication. Only on until 5pm today, need a little weekend to myself. Or so I thought, our controller for the day has other ideas, at 16.30 the phone goes, I think to be told “knock of Steve, we’re covered now” but no, I am asked if I can do one more little job, I agree to one more job a run from the MRI to Liverpool!!! Not impressed but with no one else available what can I do, say no, I’m busy? Well I could but that’s not how it works so follows 2 blustery, wet, zero visibility hours trekking up and down the M62 in horrendous conditions to get the job done. That’s me done as well until tomorrow night when I am back on at 19.00 after a full day at work but like I say #itswhatwedo Another dry moment in an otherwise dismally wet and blowy weekend.

    Another drop done…

    That’s just a couple of days in the life of a Bloodbiker but as I’ve said, during these difficult times we operate around the clock, 7 days a week covering Manchester but also supporting services in Yorkshire, Liverpool along with relay runs the length and breadth of the country joining up with other Bloodbike regions to deliver this service to the NHS when and where its needed. We are a 100% donation driven charity and receive no government or other funding apart from the generosity of the public and our volunteers who give up their free time to keep these operations running countrywide. If any of this has stirred you (or you’re willing to pay for me not to write again) please feel free to drop a small donation with us, just £10 is a tank of fuel for a bike.

    By Paypal at –

    https://www.justgiving.com/bloodbikesmanchester

    Words and Pictures: Steve Durden…

    #72372
    imperialdata
    Keymaster

    A brilliant service and, of course, an extremely important and worthy cause.

    Interesting article too, never a dull day it seems. Thanks for sharing.

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