Bringing April’s Magazine to You 5
Rainow WI Report of Monthly Meeting, 9th March 2020.
Past President Liz Lawson, in the absence of President Rachel, welcomed 42 members and 2 guests, one of whom was our Group advisor Vivien Lee, and our speaker, Geoff Highfield, who came to talk about the Blood Bikes service.
Geoff is a member of the Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire Blood Bikes and is based at Wilmslow. He explained that the Blood Bikes is a re-incarnation of a free Emergency Volunteer Service (ERV) set up by Margaret Ryerson in 1962 to improve the image of motor cyclists.
It has now become the National Association of Blood Bikes which was set up in 2010 and has over 30 Regional Groups in the country.
A Blood Biker must hold a recognised qualification, either ROSPA Gold, Institute of Advanced Motorists, or Police Driver Qualified, and they are obliged to observe all speed limits and traffic regulations. – no blue lights or speeding, which could lead to their disqualification from the service! They must be assessed before joining, and re-assessed every 3 years.
The bikers provide a free of charge courier service between hospitals. The service is entirely charitably funded, with no money whatsoever received from Government or other regular sources. They receive support from public donations, giving talks to promote knowledge of the work they do, and from such organisations as the Masons and Rotary as well as workplace collections. The donations help to fund the purchase and maintenance of the yellow liveried bikes they use, the annual cost of running the bikes is around £165,000. Fuel, motor insurance, servicing and repairs, MOTs, taxes, satnavs and livery and replacement of bikes, which wear out at the rate of around 4 annually all have to be paid for.
All volunteers work for free, and work from home: they sign up for shifts, and are called upon as need arises. They are organised by a controller who may be handling 7 or 8 riders at any one time. When a controller receives a call from a hospital, they assess which rider in their area would be most appropriate for what is entailed, contacts and dispatches the rider, and stays in touch until the job is concluded.
Riders need to know not only the best routes between hospitals, but also, where in each hospital they need to go to collect or deliver their cargo, which is packed in special protective & insulated containers. Their work entails not only the transport of blood between hospitals but also platelets, plasma, serum, surgical instruments, patient’s notes, X-rays, MRI scans and breast milk for premature babies. For practical reasons organs are not carried by this service. To take blood from the blood bank at Plymouth Grove, Manchester to Macclesfield could cost the NHS £200 if it was not done freely by the Blood Bikes.
Members found Geoff’s tale informative and inspirational, the Blood Bikes already have 148 talks pre-booked this year to raise funds.
In February, our Rainow WI team attended a heat of the Cheshire WI County quiz, where in a closely fought contest, they achieved 5th place, only 4 points behind the winners, who scored 72 out of a possible 80, but did not qualify for the finals.