Quite a few of our members help out in some way with NABB, whether it’s as Controllers, or Quatermasters or Riders, all doing a fantastic job and helping to save peoples lives.
Firstly a little background on who NABB are and what they do.
WHO WE ARE
We exist not for the income, but for a beneficial outcome
With its roots going back over half a century, the concept of a rapid response motorcycle based charity, run by unpaid volunteers has an impressive track record. More than one of the current NABB member groups can proudly demonstrate in excess of three decades of continual service to the NHS and the wider community.
Since its inception as an umbrella organisation in 2008, NABB has successfully promoted and been actively involved in the start up of numerous independent Blood Bike groups across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. With only a handful of areas not yet covered by a Blood Bike group, our vision of providing a ‘coast to coast’ service is rapidly becoming a reality. Although we are all volunteers, we operate to professional standards and comply with current legislation relating to our activities, which includes MHRA / NICE guidelines, UN3373 compliance and GMP training.
During 2013, the 25 NABB member group’s 1,400 advanced qualified volunteer riders responded to around 35,000 requests for rapid transport from 262 hospitals in the UK. These requests were to transport anything from whole blood (red cells), platelets, plasma, serum, surgical instruments to patient’s notes, X-rays, Human donor milk and MRI scans. These requests ranged from urgent (Priority 2), through to emergency (Priority 1) life threatening scenarios.
Although these groups have saved a significant amount of money for the hospitals, they are primarily acknowledged by their client hospitals as providing a professional and high quality service. The fact that they do this free of charge is just the icing on the cake.
Blood Bike groups essentially need two things – volunteers and financial help. If you would like to support us at the corporate level, volunteer for a local group, start a new group or just want to find out more, please get in touch via our contact page. If you want to give us a few pounds then please visit our BTMyDonate page.
So how does this all work? Before we start I’d like to say that Wales is, possibly, unique in NABB in that Blood Bike Wales covers the whole of Wales and cover all 7 Health Board regions. We are possibly the biggest geographic group in the country.
Every day we have a controller (dispatcher if you like) who mans the phone for the whole of his or her shift. This controller is in touch with all the riders who are on duty during the day. Length of shift can vary between a few hours and up to 12 hours, which is a long time in anybody’s book. A hospital (or another group’s controller) will ring the Freephone number that is advertised to them and will request a pickup and delivery. The controller will assess the request and will work out which rider(s) are available and the time that the rider can collect whatever it is that needs transporting. I’ll explain later what we can carry.
The controller than contacts the rider, more than one if a relay is required. The rider will tell the controller if they are available and how long it will take them to get to the pickup point. Having organised the bikes the controller will get back to the requester and the machine is set rolling. The rider will select the correct equipment for the job. If it is a milk run then freezer packs come out of the freezer and the white box is selected. There are 2 sizes of boxes so the rider needs to know how many litres of milk are going to be collected. Before you ask even though the milk is donated free by mothers who over produce, it has to be processed. Processing is only done in a few places in the country and so has to be transported to and from the processors. The processing itself costs a lot of money as the milk has to be screened for nasties, filtered, pasteurised and kept in freezers. So every litre of frozen milk costs the hospitals over £110 pounds. I know staggering isn’t it. If you add on the cost of transportation that would make an already expensive product horrendously expensive. Luckily if Blood Bikes transport it then that cost is zero, that’s right we transport it for free and saves the hospital a lot of money. If the transport is for blood or plasma then we have a small red box, if it is pathology samples then we have a big blue box. In my area we do regular pathology sample runs over weekends (from Friday night to Sunday evening). As you can imagine at present there are a lot of pathology samples.
The rider sets out for the collection but before doing so he/she will text the controller to tell then they are on the road. The controller needs to know when the rider is travelling and when they have collected and dropped off. This is so if anything happens to the rider an alert can be sent out to try and establish where the rider is, etc. At the collection point a job ticket is written out stating who the rider is, the time the collection was made who or where the collection was made from and the destination for the rider, along with the time of collection. The rider then sets out to deliver. The riders do not have special dispensation from the rules of the road and try not to break any speed limits etc.. In our region we do not run blue lights or sirens so none of us are trained in their use.
On delivery the ticket is completed by getting the name of the recipient and the time of delivery. Everything used to be signed for and receipt tickets issued and left but I am afraid that CV-19 has changed that and we don’t leave any paperwork behind or get signatures. Some UK regions have introduced an electronic smartphone app for doing this but we haven’t caught up yet. The controller is informed that delivery has been made and the rider heads for home or the next job. At the end of the shift the rider informs the controller that they are home safe and well and signs out. If they are on duty the next day the Blood Bike will be kept at home. If not it is returned to the base, fuelled up and cleaned. The controller is given all the times of drop off and the registration number of the rider’s own bike so that if stopped by the police and outside their local area the police can check out their reason for breaking lockdown regulations. Not a problem in England but in Wales, at the time of writing, we are only allowed a 5 mile radius.
So what do we carry? As I have already mentioned we carry Frozen Human Milk, pathology samples, tissue samples, blood to the air ambulance, patient notes, medication, surgical instruments and basically anything that can be strapped to the bike or carried in the panniers. What don’t we carry? Well slippers, pipes, items of clothing a patient has left behind in the hospital or anything that is non-urgent or could be posted. However if somebody did leave behind their slippers but also required urgent medication then I am sure we could accommodate the request.
This brings us to money. How much does it cost? To the NHS absolutely nothing, it is a totally FREE service. How much does everybody get paid? Well surprisingly nothing, everybody is a volunteer. We are one of the few charities where every penny raised goes into keeping the bikes on the road. It may surprise you to learn that it actually costs the rider money every time they ride. Not a lot admittedly but text messages and phone calls cost some money and each member has to join and pay a voluntary subscription. We do it because we want to try and make a difference.
As well as the controllers and riders mentioned we have an army of volunteers who give up their time to go out and make collections to raise money for the cause. We have people who give up their time to do presentations to bring awareness to groups like the WI, Freemasons, Round Table, Lions, businesses, pubs and clubs, in fact anybody who is interested enough to ask about us. As you are aware these are difficult times and none of these collections/presentations can take place so we are relying on our contingency funds and the online donations that are being made. Amazon have a charity donation scheme which you can join by using their smile domain. Similarly PayPal has an option whereby they donate to a charity of your choice each time you use their services. Neither of these cost you any extra but if enough people use them they can make a difference. Facebook has a fundraiser system where you can set up a fundraiser for your special event , like birthday, Christmas, Easter, etc..
So if you see a Blood Bike out on the road give them a wave, a toot on the horn. They will appreciate that, especially if it is teeming down with rain or it is freezing cold because let’s face it in the UK outside the 3 or 4 days when summer occurs it is not always nice out there.
We have at least 15 members that I know of who do their bit in some way, dotted all over the country, and they are the following people….
Here are pictures of all of the above people doing their amazing work.
On behalf of the club, I would like to say a massive thank you for all you do, and thank you for showing our members are the best!!