A group of volunteers who deliver out-of-hours blood supplies to local hospitals have been testing a speedier way of working, with the help of North East Ambulance Service.
Northumbria Blood Bikes used the Netherby ambulance station in Fenham, Newcastle, as a base in October – making it easier for local volunteer riders to have a location from where to collect a bike.
If deemed a success, other ambulance stations across the North East could also provide a garaging facility.
Sean Storey, a paramedic with NEAS’s Hazardous Area Response Team and a Northumbria Blood Bikes volunteer, said: “In critical situations, blood or other medical items need to be delivered urgently in order to save a patient's life. Blood bikes, with their distinctive livery, emergency lights, and narrow profile, can quickly get through traffic reaching the destination sooner.
“At the moment riders need to have a garage or other secure place to store the blood bike while at home and on call. They also have to transport the previous rider who delivers the bike back home which can cause down time for the blood bike.
“If we can base our bikes around the region at NEAS stations, our riders will have a choice as to where they would like to pick a bike up from when they have a shift to cover.
“After their shift, they can return the blood bike at any time during the day - eliminating the need for sometimes lengthy pre-arranged handovers with other riders.”
Northumbria Blood Bikes launched in February 2014, and currently has a network of volunteers who ferry hospitals across the whole of County Durham, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.
“Volunteers come from a wide cross-section of the community, but all have two common interests,” added Sean.
“We all love riding bikes, but also want to provide an efficient and effective urgent and emergency item courier service which also saves our hospitals money.”