Bloodrunners’ work a case of life and death
To be woken and asked to turn out at 4am on a dark, freezing morning does not sound very appealing.
But for the emergency bloodrunners it is a matter of life and death – because they know just how vital that journey could be.
SERV (Kent) is a group of remarkable volunteers who are on call 24/7 – even on Christmas Day – to rush urgently-needed blood and platelets supplies to trauma units, hospices and the air ambulance around the county.
Last year 140 bloodrunners across Kent made 1,600 emergency deliveries, using their own bikes and cars and fuel.
The East Kent branch was set up soon after the charity was founded in 1981 and serves all the area’s hospitals, the air ambulance and now the Pilgrims Hospice and Demelza House children’s hospice in Bobbing.
Chairman Arthur Godden said: “The really special thing about the charity is that it enables volunteers to give in the most direct way, unlike the concept of donating a few pounds, which for some is not so appealing.
“The feel-good factor of having the phone ring at 4am on a winter’s night, to get up and use your own vehicle and fuel to convey urgent blood for patients in dire need is actually incredibly rewarding.
“I’m sure people see us out and about on our bikes, which are marked, but probably don’t realise we are volunteers.”
Until recently, almost all of the group’s work was carried out at night and weekends. But the recent initiative to operate a ‘blood on board’ service to Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance has meant a shift to a 24/7 service, meaning the bloodrunners will be seen making deliveries much more during daylight hours.
Arthur, a 58-year-old project roadworks manager from Faversham, said: “The charity has reached the stage where we are integrated into the NHS mechanism for blood replenishment, providing a critical and lifesaving service.”
But he says the group now needs more riders and drivers as well as controllers to co-ordinate deliveries due to the extra demand.
Although riders and drivers use their own transport, there are several dedicated, ‘blue light’ pool bikes which are sponsored by local companies.
Among the other local vol- unteers are Graham Perrin, 64, who, as well as being a blue light rider, also organises the rider rota and acts as the group’s hospital liaison officer.
Mel Smith is the group’s secretary and also a rider, and other members include Mark Singleton, who works in IT, Gary Shephard, who manages a plant hire firm and Trevor Sayer, a retired insurance broker.
Arthur said: “We have just received a £2,000 grant from the Co-operative community fund to pay for some advanced rider training and we are grateful for the support we get from other business like Cheriton Motorcycles, who give us generous discount on servicing and repairs. But fuel is our biggest outlay.
“We all love riding our bikes and being able to give something back is very satisfying.”
To donate visit www.servkent.moonfruit.com
SERV Kent emergency blood bikers
Rose Spicer collects another urgent supply of human plasma from SERV chairman Arthur Godden