Blood bikers team up with NEAS for trial delivery service

Volunteers use ambulance stations to store bikes

A group of North East volunteers who deliver out-of-hours blood supplies to local hospitals have been testing a speedier way of working, with the help of NEAS.

Northumbria Blood Bikes used the Netherby ambulance station in Fenham, Newcastle, as a base in October - making it easier for local volunteer riders to have a location from where to collect a bike.

It's hoped this combined use of an ambulance station will make it easier for them to respond quicker.

If it's deemed a success, other ambulance stations across the North East could also provide a garaging facility.

Currently,riders need to have a garage or other secure place to store the blood bike - which is owned by the charity- while they are at work, home and on call. Volunteers comes from all walks of life.

Sean Storey, a paramedic with NEAS's Hazardous Area Response Team and also a Northumbria Blood Bikes volunteer, said: "In critical situations, blood or other medical items need to be delivered urgently in order to save a patient's life. Blood bikes, with their distinctive livery, emergency lights, and narrow profile, can quickly get through traffic reaching the destination sooner.

"If we can base our bikes around the region at NEAS stations, our riders will have a choice as to where they would like to pick a bike up from when they have a shift to cover. They will be able to go a station, leave their transport in a secure place and sign on for duty straight away. After their shift, they can return the blood bike at any time during the day - eliminating the need for sometimes lengthy pre-arranged handovers with other riders.

Northumbria Blood Bikes launched in February 2014, and currently has a network of volunteers who ferry hospitals across the whole of County Durham, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

Sean said: "We don't ride our own bikes, we ride bikes owned by the charity. We currently operate a fleet of 6 specially adapted motorcycles consisting of a BMW R1200RT, a Honda Pan European, two Yamaha FJRs and two Triumph Trophy's.

"These are tourer type motorcycles designed to be ridden for extended periods and distances, that offer some protection from the worst of the weather and which have reasonable luggage capacity. Our bikes have full high visibility markings in order to ensure they can be easily identified as 'Blood Bikes' and to help our riders and their precious cargo be seen and stay safe. 

"Our riders can be 'on call' several times each month, they take possession of the NBB bike, for the time they are on call, so that they can respond from home to any request for assistance."

"At the moment riders need to have a garage or other secure place to store the blood bike while at home and on call, they also have to transport the previous rider who delivers the bike back home which can cause down time for the blood bike.

"All riders are required to have held a full motorcycle licence for at least two years and hold a current advanced riding qualification or an emergency services equivalent. If people want to ride but don't yet have a suitable qualification, the charity can put them in contact with one of the local advanced rider groups so they can gain the required qualification. 

"Volunteers come from a wide cross-section of the community, but all have two common interests.

"Sean said: "We all love riding bikes, but also want to provide an efficient and effective urgent and emergency item courier service which also saves our hospitals money."

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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