Covering Dublin & Ireland's East Tel: +353 (0)1 961 0124
Frequently Asked Questions

While on duty, our riders are often asked questions about Blood Bikes East and about being a volunteer rider. We have collated below all the questions we have been asked and as many as we can think of. Should you have a question not covered here, simply visit the Contact Us page and let us know. Once answered, we will add it to this page.

Q: How Can I Become A Rider Volunteer?
A: Just visit our ‘Become A Volunteer Rider‘ page to get started.
Q: Are There Any Restrictions On Being A Volunteer?
A: There are a few obvious requirements. Firstly, in order to be a rider volunteer, you must have a full motorcycle licence and been riding for 2 years unrestricted. A clean licence is obviously a strong preference, but if you have 2 to 3 points then we will certainly consider your application. Secondly, Gardai vetting will be conducted on all applicants and as such you must have no criminal convictions or pending criminal actions against you. Thirdly, as a rider volunteer, you must be an advanced rider with a minimum AON level 2 certificate. However, within 6 months of joining you must achieve a RoSPA silver or higher certificate. Finally, you must be free to be on shift at least twice per month. If you volunteer as a rider, it does not mean always riding, but could be a combination of 1 shift riding and a second shift fundraising.
Q: I Don't Ride A Motorbike, Can I Volunteer?
A: Yes, absolutely. We are looking for volunteer fundraisers, volunteer administrative staff and even anyone who wants to run occasional promotional or fundraising events. If you can donate any time to helping us achieve our goals, simply move your mouse over the ‘How You Can Help’ menu item and select the most relevant menu item.
Q: Do You Use Your Own Bikes?
A: No. BBE has its own fleet of fully serviced and decaled bikes.
Q: What Type Of Bikes Does BBE Use?
A: We currently have a fleet of 4 Honda Deauvilles (650cc – 750cc), used for general work, a 300cc scooter for city centre work, plus a Honda Pan-European for cross-country link-ups. We also have a Skoda Yeti (provided free of charge by Annesley Williams Skoda), which is invaluable for bulky deliveries, during very bad weather or in deepest winter, when riding a bike is simply not safe.
Q: Do You Have Blue Lights/Can You Use Them?
A: Yes, all our vehicles have blue lights fitted, however they are very rarely used. They are only used in extreme emergencies (where we are carrying transplant materials, such as corneas or heart valves, etc.) and even then only in heavy traffic, to make us more visible to other road users around us. The average rider will never have a need to use them.
Q: Do You Have The Same Road Use Remit As Gardai Or Paramedic Riders/Drivers?
A: No. Blood Bikes are not classed as ‘Emergency Vehicles’ and as such our riders do not have free reign to ride in the same manner as other emergency services can. We cannot, for instance, break red lights or exceed the speed limit as we wish. We do not have sirens fitted, so on the rare occasions that a rider is instructed to use the blue lights, he/she must always give priority to the rules of the road and reaching the destination safely and with due care and attention. Where a delivery is very time critical, the controller will request a Garda escort, which then allows the BBE rider to follow emergency services riding protocols, under the direction and care of the Gardai escorting him/her. However, discussions on this subject are ongoing as Blood Bikers carry ever more sensitive materials on ever more time-critical deliveries.
Q: Are You All Ex-Gardai Riders?
A: Not at all. We do happen to have a small number of current and ex Gardai riders, but the vast majority of rider volunteers are simply motorbike enthusiasts who have a passion for helping others and wanted to give something back to the community.
Q: Are You All Paramedics?
A: No. Again, there are a couple of paramedic volunteers, but our remit is simply medical transport, so the only requirement is that we can ride motorbikes safely and efficiently. A number of our volunteers are trained first responders, but they have done that in their own time as an extension to their volunteering efforts.
Q: What Training Do You Have?
A: All our riders are trained to at least AON 2 advanced rider level. They are then supported to achieve the highly respected R0SPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) certification for motorcycle riding. This is the highest level of civilian accreditation and is essentially the same certification as Gardai riders achieve, although they then go on to an elite rider course, not available to civilians. Rider learning is based on the motorcycle rider’s bible “Motorcycle Roadcraft”, which teaches riders better awareness, observation, machine control and ultimately a much higher appreciation for hazard awareness.
Q: Is There A Minimum/Maximum Age To Be A Volunteer?
A: Yes, volunteers must be a minimum of 25 years old. In terms of maximum age, our rider volunteers can no longer ride above 75 years old. As much as we may not like this, unfortunately our insurance restricts riders above this age. However, we welcome non-rider volunteers up to any age and would welcome the maturity they bring to our fundraising and administrative efforts.
Q: What Equipment Do You Carry?
A: The only key piece of equipment required for our role is a size 16 insulated box for carrying blood, milk or temperature sensitive medications. These boxes can maintain constant temperature for up to 8 hours.
Q: What Geographical Areas Do You Cover?
A: Blood Bikes East covers Dublin city and the greater Dublin area. Together with our sister Blood Bikes organisations across the country, who cover their respective regions, we connect the regional hospitals to their Dublin counterparts when medical transport is required.
Q: What Actually Happens On A Typical Call-Out?
A: Typically, the Controller receives a call from a hospital we service. He/She then calls the most relevant rider on duty. We normally have 2 riders on duty and the rider closest to the hospital will receive the call. The bikes are fitted with trackers, so the controller can give a rough estimate of time to arrival to the hospital in question. All riders have Bluetooth devices fitted or integrated to their helmet, so they can take the call even while riding. The call is typically seconds, with the controller simply saying “Pickup from X, deliver to Y please”. However for more detailed instructions they will normally pull over to talk. The controller will also indicate if the call is rated as Urgent or Emergency. All calls are treated as Standard unless the controller indicates otherwise. Standard calls mean that should the rider be having a coffee break, he can comfortably finish it before departing. Urgent means that they must leave immediately. Emergency is very rare and may require Garda Escort and Blue Lights.

When the rider arrives at the pickup hospital, they fill out a sheet in the official Docket book. This is a triplicate book with uniquely sequenced numbers. They complete all details and have the person handing the package over sign and print their name. They then receive the top white copy. The rider then places the package in the bike’s compartment. If it’s a temperature sensitive delivery then they will be receiving a special temperature controlled transporter box, which sits in a specially designed rack on the bike. With that the rider makes his/her way to the destination.

On arrival, they take the package to the designated drop-off point and hand it over to the recipient, who signs and prints their name on the second, yellow sheet. The rider marks the arrival time and then gives the yellow copy to the recipient of the package. The rider is now left with the final pink copy of the details in the docket book.

All that is left to do is to send a message to the controller to inform them that the delivery is complete with the unique code included and they also photograph the pink copy and send that too. The controller then marks up the details in the log. In the event that the package is mislaid after delivery (which is extremely rare), or there is any question relating to the delivery, the controller can review the details and if necessary call the rider to confirm details from the original copy.

The rider then positions himself at a cafe or petrol station to await the next call.

Q: What Other Groups Exist?
A: Along with Blood Bikes East there are five other Blood Bike groups serving Ireland. These are Blood Bike West, Blood Bike South, Blood Bike North East, Blood Bike Mid West and Blood Bike Leinster.
Q: What Do You Carry?
A: We carry literally anything that a hospital needs transported for them and that fits on the bike. In most cases it is whole blood, blood and other samples, medicines, medical equipment, test results, documents, breast milk and transplant related tissues.
Q: Are You Certified To Do This Kind Of Work And Transport The Sensitive Materials You Do?
A:Yes. Blood Bikes East will only transport packages for hospitals for which we have signed contracts. We also have agreed SLAs with the hospitals and all packages are delivered point-to-point and are fully traceable. The bikes have GPS trackers fitted and the rider is contactable at all times by the controller. The packages are sealed and the rider has no access to the contents or knowledge of what they are carrying. Every call-out is ranked as ‘Standard’, ‘Urgent’ or ‘Emergency’ and the controller/rider liaise accordingly to determine best course of action based on the level of urgency. Riders are trained to the highest riding standards (RoSPA) and also in Good Distribution Practice, which trains them on how to handle sensitive materials and medication in transport.

Q: How Do The Hospitals Communicate With The Riders?
A: When a hospital requires a package to be delivered, they call the dedicated BBE controller phone number, which is manned permanently and in rotation. The controller takes the details of the pick-up and delivery point and level of urgency and then calls the rider on duty, who then sets off to attend the call-out.
Q: How Do You Track The Deliveries?
A: Firstly, all our vehicles have tracking technology installed, which gives live and mapped tracking of every vehicle. This system was provided free of charge by In-Car Solutions and allows us better understand key metrics such as ETA for pick-up and delivery. Secondly, on arriving at the pick-up location, the rider records the vehicle being used, their own name, the person they picked up from and the time of pick-up, in the official docket book. At the delivery location, the person who accepts delivery and time of delivery is also marked in the docket book. Finally the rider then confirms delivery with a text message back to the controller. The text message includes the pick-up and delivery points, the time that the delivery was completed and the number of the unique docket slip number.

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