In the early summer of 2012 Pat McCabe (now serving as BBE Chairman) was relaxing at home and watching an episode of ‘Emergency Bikers’. Like any other avid motorcycle rider and enthusiast, the next best thing to being out on your bike is watching a program about them. During one of the ad breaks a special ad came up from Honda specifically showing how Honda UK was supporting a blood bikes group there. It piqued Pat’s interest and he thought it was an excellent way to give back to the community, but like so many great initiatives, it didn’t happen immediately, but took a little time and a chance meeting to bring it to life. Pat kept thinking about this service and wondering if it could be brought to Ireland.
Then in August of 2012 Pat joined a Cross-Ireland Bike Run, which ended in Eyre Square, Galway. As he arrived he saw a bike that looked remarkably like the UK Blood Bike shown in the advert.
It turned out to be Mike Carty of Blood Bike West (the first Blood Bike group in Ireland and had only just started up at the time), who pulled up right beside Pat. It was clearly fate and over the next hour or so Pat asked Mike hundreds of questions about how Blood Bike West worked and what their services meant for the hospitals in the west of Ireland. That discussion made Pat determined to form a Blood Bike group in the east and so it was logical to call it Blood Bikes East.
On returning to Dublin, Pat began seriously researching what was required and liaising further with Mike Carty and with other UK Blood Bike groups. By October 2012 the basic framework was arranged and Pat posted messages online looking for interested parties to attend a meeting in a Dublin hotel. 15 people turned up to that first meeting and the idea of BBE was was so positive that within days of that meeting BBE was officially formed.
BBE started operating with a single motorbike and 30 volunteers. The first run occurred in late October 2012, just 2 days after signing the first SLA with Temple Street Childrens’ Hospitals.
The real boost for BBE came when DoneDeal.ie chose BBE as the December 2012 recipient of it charity donations initiative. This provided BBE with an incredible €33,000, which allowed us to purchase a fleet of 4 motorbikes and fully fit them out.
The official launch event took place in April 2013 at Mansion House with the then Lord Mayor Naoise O’Muiri and PJ Gallagher.
At the end of 2016, after 3 years at the helm, Pat McCabe stepped down as Chairman and handed the reins to Paddy Crawford, himself a long-time Blood Biker.
Pat remains with BBE, both in a committee role and also as a rider, having seen BBE grow from a fledgling organisation to one that is an essential and integral part of our hospitals’ service.
Indeed, the record speaks for itself when the number of completed transports per year is taken into consideration:
2012 – 34
2013 – 323
2014 – 1,594
2015 – 2,547
2016 – 3,528
Today, Blood Bikes East comprises over 120 volunteers, 5 motorbikes and a jeep (for bulky deliveries or extreme weather conditions) and at the end of 2016 we completed our 8,000th medical transport since inception!
In January 2017, recognising the amazing work of the entire team, Blood Bikes East was accepted in NABB (National Association of Blood Bikes), a U.K. based governing body that sets the standards for Blood Bikes organisations across the UK and Ireland. Blood Bikes as a concept began in the early 1960s in the UK and so they have decades more experience in best practice for groups like ours. We are therefore delighted to join their ranks and be able to both gain from their experience and share our own unique experience with the many other group members.
This is another step in the continuing growth and development of BBE. Another step that will allow us to further expand and improve our services to our hospitals and become an ever more essential and integral part of the HSE’s service.