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MICHELLE Donelan MP recently hosted a meeting with the Freewheelers Emergency Volunteer Service, otherwise known as “Blood Bikes” who have stepped up during the pandemic to increases their existing coverage of Wiltshire and the surrounding area.
The Freewheelers are a volunteer organisation with charitable status who provide a free out-of-hours motorcycle courier service to hospitals in the South West. Freewheelers EVS have a slogan “Riding for Life” which describes the operation perfectly. They ride to play a part in saving people’s lives and provide a valuable service to the NHS for which the service provision would otherwise be fulfilled by taxis or couriers, but more than anything else they all ride because they love it.
They can carry urgently required PPE and Medical kit to the NHS hospitals across Wiltshire or by handover to neighbouring blood bike groups for onward distribution, blood for transfusion, platelets, or other blood products, blood, urine, or other tissue samples for analysis by pathology and microbiology laboratories, X-Rays, scans and CD- ROMs, patient notes, frozen breast milk and any other medical items or small pieces of medical equipment such as syringes and cannulas. They have been asked to carry large items such a wheelchair in the past but unfortunately these are a bit too big for the bikes!
In 2008, in recognition of the dedicated work of their volunteers, they were given The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest honour that a voluntary group can receive, equivalent in status to an MBE.
The charity currently runs four bikes in day-to- day service plus four spares. During COVID-19 they also have additional riders available using their own bikes or cars to help with transportation of large quantities of PPE and medical kit.
Michelle said, “It was a pleasure to meet with the Freewheelers, just another example of the unsung heroes who have stepped up during the last 18 months to provide a service over and above the normal levels of commitment they have shown to the health and wellbeing of others. The service is provided by volunteers and they depend entirely on public sponsorship and donations. Please con- sider having further look at the work they do.”