In this series of articles we look at who is involved in BBE, why they joined and what they do.
Blood Bikes East is managed and serviced entirely by volunteers. Every person has their own life to lead, yet finds the time to help their community in this very important way and in so doing helps to save lives, both directly and indirectly.
This month we talked to Phil Kelly. A ROSPA advanced rider and long-standing BBE volunteer, and he shared some interesting stories from his 3+ years of volunteering:
Q1: So, what do you do for a living?
I’m a Security Operations Controller with a large multinational.
Q2: What do you do for BBE?
I’m a volunteer rider at present having also acted as Fundraising Manager from 2013 to 2015.
Q3: When did you join BBE?
I’m delighted to be one of the originals, I joined before BBE was officially launched at the end of 2012. What a difference compared to those early days when being ‘busy’ meant 2 calls in a day! Today I feel lucky if I only get 4 or 5 in a shift.
Q4: What prompted you to join BBE?
I joined BBE firstly due to my love of motorbikes and secondly having spent most of my childhood in and out of hospitals (I’ve been a patient in nearly every hospital in Dublin at one time or another), which is very handy for finding my way around them these days. I thought it was a unique way of giving something back to the hospitals I had received such great treatment from in the past.
Q5: What is your most memorable moment while on shift so far?
It was an average Sunday. I was just dropping off samples from one hospital to another when the phone rang.
“Where are you now and how soon can you be at Crumlin Children’s Hospital?” asked the controller.
“How fast do you need me to be?” I responded.
“We have a time critical run from Crumlin to Temple St.” he said.
“Twenty minutes.” I said and immediately set off.
For the entire journey I met green lights and when I got to CCH they were waiting for me with the urgent medications in-hand for a gravely ill child in Temple St. I had to advise the controller of my arrival at CCH and again once I had the package and was ready to depart for Temple St. Again off I went across the city to Temple St.
Upon arrival, security were waiting for me with directions for where to deliver the package. I headed off up through the hospital and as I turned a corner was met by a team of doctors all in masks and gowns. As one reached out to take the package I could hear another saying, “Ok, let’s get to work, we only have hours to make this drug work, time is tight.” With that they all walked off up the corridor at speed.
I was left standing with my docket book in my hand thinking ‘oh God, no one signed for that parcel, what do I do now?’ and then the last Doctor turned and thanked me and offered to sign. The relief of not having to try and explain my incomplete paperwork!
Some weeks later I met a relative of that child who had made a full recovery. She told me and other riders how we had played a key role in helping to save her nephew’s life that day. It was very humbling and motivating to hear.
Q6: What does being a BBE volunteer mean to you?
It’s combining my love of motorbikes with charity work. It’s actually wrong to call it work as it’s so enjoyable and fulfilling.
Q7: How long have you been a biker?
I’ve been riding motorbikes since I was 16. I grew up watching the tv series Chips and always wanted to ride motorbikes.
Q8: What was your first motor bike?
My first bike was a Kawasaki AR80. It was a great starter bike.
Q9: What’s the funniest/weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you while out riding?
I took advantage of a lull in calls on a busy Sunday to have a nice cooling ice pop. As I sat taking in the view over Dublin bay, a passerby scolded me for wasting taxpayers money ‘sitting on my arse’ like that. They wouldn’t believe me that I was actually volunteering my time at no cost to the HSE. They even took a picture of me from behind, which later showed up on the web. Mind you, it gave me a bit of a laugh when I saw it and at the same time I felt proud seeing the comments from people who confirmed our charity status under the picture later. Just goes to show how much more aware of our work people are these days compared to those early days.
Q10: What bike do you own?
Today I have a Honda Varadero XL1000.
Q11: If you could buy any bike today, what would it be?
If money was no object I would love a Harley Davidson, but in reality I would just love whatever the latest version of my own bike is at the time.
Q12: When you’re not on shift and riding for pleasure, what’s your favourite road/route?
Any open road through the countryside where I can ride free and blow off the stress and strains of city life.
Thanks Phil, it’s wonderful to hear all those stories that you’ve built up over the years serving with BBE. Stay safe on the roads and we hope that you get to buy your dream bike very soon.