THEY don’t use flashing blue lights and they don’t look like they’re on a mission, but the volunteers with Blood Bikes Mid West have a very important task. They’re on a mission to transport vital medical supplies the fastest way possible on land.
And they’ve been doing it all for the past 10 years without any financial support other than kind donations from the public and the proceeds of fundraisers.
The volunteers with the service are celebrating driving to serve the needs of patients and hospitals and they want to let people know that “we’re still here”, Trish O’Reilly, accounts administrator and volunteer, told the Limerick Post.
“We’re having a celebration because, although we have between 40 and 50 regular volunteers, we almost never get to meet each other. We talk on the radio, but people are always flying off on calls and we operate on-call shifts, so meeting up is a treat.”
The bikes carry blood supplies, other medical test samples, and even treatment drugs and breast milk.
“Recently, we got a call for someone to deliver breast milk to Portlaoise for a very premature baby who was being delivered at 21 weeks,” Trish explained.
“The little mite needed all the help it could get. One of our lads heard the call on his lunch hour and took off. The baby was being born at exactly the time the breast milk reached the hospital. They couldn’t believe that the milk had arrived so fast.”
On another recent run, the bikers brought blood from Dublin to a little girl in West Limerick, linking up with Blood Bikes East for the run. Other runs have been to bring chemotherapy medicine to cancer patients being treated at home.
The bikes can filter through traffic in emergencies far faster than a car or ambulance, and the service is saving the HSE an enormous amount of money on taxis and courier services.
Volunteers range in age from working people to retirees and – perhaps no surprise to most – many of them are bikers.
“We don’t ask people to use their own bikes. We have our own fully insured and serviced bikes, and that’s what most of the money raised goes on,” explained Trish.
“We’re always open to signing up new volunteers. Even if people don’t want to ride a bike, we have the blood van and there are lots of ways people can help through organising fundraisers and raising awareness.”
The Blood Bike crew will be having their get-together in the South Court Hotel on December 2 and anyone who would like to know more about the service is welcome to join in and chat between 5.30pm and 8.30pm.