‘Patients may never know lives have been saved by the Blood Bike Service,’ quoted by advanced bike rider Martijn Huddlestone as he spoke to members of Mylor and Flushing WI at their June meeting.
Cornwall Blood Bikes is a completely volunteer courier service which carries urgent supplies of blood, medications and other vital items, such as breast milk, across the County – 24 hours a day, every day. This service to the NHS is run for the people of Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, where the link is made from Penzance by plane. The riders also link with the Haematology Service riders from Bristol, via a point on the M5.
‘Most of the time, the patients never know,’ said Martijn, ‘and we are saving the NHS an estimated £200 to £300 every night.’ The entire service, the 80 riders on call, and the team who take the calls, connect with and keep track of the riders, is voluntary and costs are funded by donations from within Cornwall.
The bikes have to be maintained to the highest standard, which takes the major share of the budget. Clive said the 3 BMW bikes are their pride and joy, and have names such as ‘Spirit of Cornwall.’ As the small fleet was originally bought second-hand, the team was thrilled when, ‘thanks to the people of Cornwall,’ they took delivery of the first brand-new bike. However, when demand outstrips the number of bikes, these dedicated riders will use their own machines to provide this vital service.
The Police make no allowance for speeding, but the riders praised the helpfulness of other drivers who make way for the strikingly-marked bikes, complete with panniers holding the vital supplies, to pass through in dense traffic. ‘It’s fun riding on a summer evening,’ said Martijn, ‘but not so much on a wet night in winter.’
Clearly, the people of Cornwall have reason to be grateful to these dedicated ‘blood brothers’ who give so much of their time to helping the community.
Photo: WI member Frances Michael tries out the latest ‘blood bike’ at the Tremayne Hall, Mylor Bridge.