As the Severn Freewheelers ‘Blood Bike’ service approaches one million miles on the road, a founding member has described the satisfaction of being part of a vital emergency voluntary service.
Geoff Brown, 58, from Cirencester, is one of an unsung band of motorcyclists who spend their weekends and evenings delivering vital medical resources around the UK.
Since 2007, the Gloucestershire-based branch has grown from a small group of biker friends, to a 100-strong organisation that, last year, completed more than 3000 medical assignments.
Geoff, who works in Cheltenham for ONR explained how the Severn Freewheelers play a vital role supporting hospitals throughout Hereford & Worcester, Gloucestershire and North Wiltshire.
He said: “It all started from a few of us meeting in a pub in Tewkesbury in 2006.
“When we first set up in 2007 we had one motorbike and a small handful of volunteers but it soon mushroomed from there. We now have 70 riders, around 30 support volunteers, and five motorbikes.
“In the coming months, we will have travelled more than a million miles providing the service since 2007.
“The area we cover has grown over the years from the Gloucestershire area to as far south as Devizes and north towards Birmingham and the Midlands.
“We have a single emergency number which hospitals contact to reach a dispatcher who, in turn, contacts one of the three riders on duty. This goes up to four riders at weekends.
“All the medical resources are in sealed containers, but we can deliver blood samples, human tissue, medicines, hospital notes, medical equipment, and even breast milk to help premature babies.
Geoff balances his blood bike role between his family life, with a wife and two teenage children, and his work promoting a safe and secure nuclear industry.
He says his contact with the NHS has given him immense satisfaction and opened his eyes to the fantastic work of countless doctors and nurses.
Geoff said: “I get a real sense of satisfaction that we are saving money which can be used for nurses or other vital resources for the NHS.
“If we didn’t exist, the alternative would be to use taxis which is far more costly and can take a lot longer. Sometimes every second is really important.
“The role has given me a real insight into the incredible work that goes on within the NHS. There is good work going on around the clock that most people don’t see until it affects them personally, and I’ve grown to realise that it is a wonderful service.
“Of course I enjoy riding the bike, but I also enjoy the personal engagement with staff at the hospitals who really appreciate what we do and make you feel like you are really making a difference.”