Today, Friday 17th August, is Blood Bike Awareness Day across the country, and we are lucky at GWAAC to work with an amazing group of Blood Bikers, also known as Freewheelers.
The Freewheelers EVS voluntarily give up their free time to deliver lifesaving blood, and plasma, every day of the week, every day of the year come rain or shine; whom, without their services, we would simply not be able to save as many lives as we do.
Our crew are Doctors and Paramedics with specialist training and carry out many of the same surgical interventions that you would expect to take place in hospital; however, the GWAAC crew carry those out at the side of the road, in parks or in someone’s house or back garden. Our Critical Care Doctors and Specialist Paramedics have been able to save more lives since they started to carry blood and plasma as part of their kit. The Critical Care Team attend emergencies where patients need immediate treatment – they could be in a life changing or life threatening situation, and simply waiting for hospital treatment is not an option; the ability to administer blood and plasma is vital here. A patient can be miraculously stabilised with blood and plasma for example where the patient is losing blood at a very rapid rate, the use of plasma, with its vital clotting factors, can help stabilise a patient. Therefore, the delivery of blood and plasma made by Freewheelers to the GWAAC crew is vital for saving those lives in those very critical times of emergency.
We spoke to one our most dedicated Blood Bikers, Mel, to get a closer insight in to the ins and outs of being a Freewheeler.
Mel has been a biker for 16 years, an advanced rider since 2003 and a Freewheeler since 2008 (you must be an advanced rider in order to be a Freewheeler). For Mel, a full time Accountant for BT, her hobby became something of significant importance, driving a motorbike to deliver these lifesaving products.
Mel has several roles as a volunteer with Freewheelers. Mel is a fundraiser for Freewheelers but also carries out deliveries herself, ensuring the blood and plasma are delivered to GWAAC every night. Occasionally, Mel also coordinates the phones when the hospitals ring to request a special item to be transported which means ensuring the correct rider is sent on their way, and she is able to keep a watchful eye for safety thanks to the bike trackers.
To ensure all the above happens throughout the year, Mel is also the Treasurer and a Trustee of Freewheelers with a committee of volunteers helping to keep the Blood Bikers circulating around the communities they serve.
FreeWheelers have provided an exceptional level of service to the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, ensuring that the teamalways has the ability to deliver lifesaving blood transfusions to those critically ill and injured patients that need it most. Without the truly amazing work of FreeWheelers, GWAAC wouldn’t be able to continue saving as many lives as we do!
Freewheelers carry out 50 jobs a week Monday to Thursday, and up to 90 jobs over the weekend. They need to raise £120,000 per year to fund themselves and £15,000 of this is needed to fund their service to us at the air ambulance. In total, there are 120 Freewheelers that carry out this vital service to us all in the South West – Bristol, Bath and Taunton being the main delivery locations.
To find out more about Freewheelers and being a Blood Biker, follow this link.
We would like to thank each and every one of the Blood Bikers for their dedicated and continued support to our air ambulance.