There are many people involved in Blood Bikes East and all carry out different roles, but given our small stature as a charity, many people believe that our operations and organisational capabilities are ‘adhoc’. Nothing could be further from the truth, so in this series of articles, we explore the various roles within BBE and highlight the highly efficient and advanced organisational skills and capabilities brought to bear on our emergency medical transport service, as rightly demanded by our client hospitals.
In this article we look at the role of the Rider Volunteers and how they go about carrying out their duties.
Rider volunteers are the key ingredient of BBE and any Blood Bike organisation. They go out at all times and all weathers to make the journeys that the hospitals ask us to make. Here’s how it’s done.
A rider is assigned, or requests, a duty shift. 30 minutes or so before their shift begins, they arrive at the depot. This gives them time to prepare and ‘check-out’ the assigned bike for their shift, which involves completing a log book and doing a POWDDERR check, (this stands for Petrol, Oil, Water, Drive, Damage, Electrics, Rubber, Reflectors). This ensures that the bike is fully serviceable and has no issues that require attention or may endanger the rider. They also check that they have a docket book with them and that it contains sufficient sheets to complete their shift. Once they are happy, they leave the depot and make their way to a stand-by location.
Riders who live in the city centre will often go home to await their first call. In other cases rider volunteers may live further afield, which means going home makes no sense. In this case they will find a nice, warm petrol station, that has nicer and warmer coffee and wait there. Often they may not have time to even finish their coffee, while at other times, they can be there hours and so they’ll take a book, magazine, laptop, etc. But eventually, they will receive a phone call from the controller who tells them the pickup and drop-off location and the category of the call (Standard, Urgent or Emergency), and at that point, they head to the pickup location.
On arrival, the rider makes his/her way to the approved collection point and they fill out the relevant sections of the docket book and have the consigner sign the sheet. They then hand that person a copy of the docket sheet and leave to make their way to the destination. It is important to note that BBE operates a point-to-point service. This ensures that there is no chance that packages for one hospital ends up at another, and also that there is no delay in delivering the package/s. On arrival at the destination, the rider goes to the approved drop-off point and completes the remaining sections of the docket book. They have the consignee sign to accept the package and then hand them the second copy from the triplicate book. This leaves BBE with a permanent record of the delivery and all key details, should the consigner or consignee have any need to track it in future.
The rider then sends a message to the Controller, informing him/her that the delivery is complete and include the unique docket number, which is recorded in the official call log.
They will then go to the nearest standby location to await the next call. During a typical shift, a rider will get anything from 1 call to a dozen calls. They therefore have a cup of tea/coffee/other drink and some food when they get the chance as the call rate is very unpredictable.
We also receive requests for longer cross-country runs, where we link up with other Blood Bike groups around the country to complete deliveries in a chain. this ensures the best use of resources for all groups and a more timely service for the hospitals. Only RoSPA level riders can attend to these calls given the increased demands on the rider and therefore the need for increased risk mitigation.
Our riders are trained to advanced rider level. A minimum of AXA/AON 2 level is required, but all riders must then commit to achieving a minimum RoSPA Silver level standard within a 6 month period. They are also trained in GDP (Good Distribution Practice), which ensures that they understand the key requirements of handling sensitive materials or medicines. This means protecting them physically from damage, proper storage, never leaving the packages unattended and ensuring the collection and drop-off is carried out to correct protocol.
Our rider volunteers complete a minimum of 1 shift per month with many of them doing much more than that.
Do You Think You Have What It Takes To Be A Rider For Blood Bikes East?
It takes a very special person to become a Blood Biker. A mix of goodwill, skill, patience and determination. Do you want to join us? Check out the details on our Become A Volunteer Rider page and apply today!