Date Published : November 3rd, 2015 Published By : adminWhen others are settling down on a rainy night, the committed volunteers of Blood Bike Leinster are heading out onto the roads of Leinster to provide their service. Blood Bikes originated in the UK as far back as 1962 and have grown into an extremely valuable service. Blood Bike groups begin their existence in Ireland in 2012 and have become a valuable resource for local hospitals across the country.
The primary aim of Blood Bikes is to save hospitals money by offering our service free of charge, during agreed time periods and it is offered as a complementary service to existing arrangements.
Blood Bike groups operate as registered charities and are responsible for their own operations and funding. Chairman of Blood Bikes Leinster is Fergus Lennon. He told Emergency Times “We use motorcycles to transport these items due to their manoeuvrability, versatility and fuel economy. Blood Bike Leinster’s highly visible vehicles are equipped to the highest standards and are excellent at manoeuvring through traffic. Blood Bike Leinster is an entirely volunteer run organisation. 100pc of the money donated goes directly into the running costs of the service, we are staffed by volunteers we spend no money on administration, wages or staff expenses.”
They routinely transport medical samples, scans and cross matches some of which are urgently needed for either surgery or diagnosis. They have also on occasion carried equipment that was needed in another hospital. Their service typically runs between hospitals, laboratories and the National Virus Reference laboratory in UCD.
Another one of their vital services that is literally a lifesaver for many premature babies, is to Ireland’s only milk bank, which provides breast milk to Irish hospitals. Breast milk is vital to premature babies. The Milk Bank was set up in 2000 by Anne McCrea to provide Irish babies with access to breast milk and it serves the entire island of Ireland. Fergus said “Premature babies are susceptible to Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) which is a swelling of the gut and if not treated the gut can burst and the baby can contract septicaemia (blood poisoning) which can be fatal.”
“Breast milk is high in calories and is exactly what premature babies need as they can’t digest anything else, and colostrum is high in antibodies which help to fight infections.” The milk bank currently dispatches around 1000 litres of donor breast milk per year, helping around 700 babies across the island of Ireland and we at Blood Bike Leinster are very happy to be working with such a fantastic organisation. “Premature babies are more likely to survive if given breast milk. The problem being that, as they are premature, their mother may not be producing milk yet.”
Emma Kinsella, Clincial Nurse Manager at Barretstown Camp, explained the value of the Blood Bike service to their services. “Barretstown’s Med Shed has used Blood Bike Leinster for the past two years. They provide us with an efficient, flexible, and professional service. What we appreciate most is the friendly and pleasant nature of the drivers, their willingness to collect and deliver samples at any time of the day or night and their understanding of the vital and valuable service they provide to the children at camp.”
The volunteers are more than happy to give up their time. One of the bike rider volunteers is Damien Stafford. “Following an extended stay in hospital after the birth of my second child, I am now delighted to be a vital link in the chain that assists other parents and children during their stay in hospital.” Another volunteer Gordon Kiely summed it up by saying, “We all have a part to play and this is ours.” Obviously safety is their primary concern so when the weather is not suitable such as high winds or icy roads, they use four-wheeled vehicles to ensure the safety of its volunteers and our cargo. “Our motorcycles are fitted to the highest emergency service standards with emergency blue lights, reflective decals and of course a professional rider.
All of our riders are regularly assessed on their skills and are constantly training and up skilling all at their own expense. Blood Bike Leinster are also trained and qualified in GDP (Good distribution practice) which guarantees traceability and quality assurance of all our cargo, this was completed in conjunction with GLS Pharma,” explained Fergus. Blood Bike Leinster are full members of Nationwide association of Blood Bikes in the UK which have 50 years of experience and are of great assistance due to their wealth of knowledge.