Blood­run­ners’ work a case of life and death

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Information -

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.moon­

Pic­ture: Tony Flash­man FM2951689

SERV Kent emer­gency blood bik­ers

Pic­ture: Tony Flash­man FM2951668

Rose Spicer col­lects another ur­gent sup­ply of hu­man plasma from SERV chair­man Arthur God­den

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