Devon Freewheelers charity brings emergency blood and organ courier service to the north of the region
A Barnstaple fire fighter has become one of the first in the country to be able to ride his motorcycle to emergencies with blue lights blazing â€“ but to deliver blood and organs, not to put out fires.
Crew Manager Andy Worsley is a volunteer for the Devon Freewheelers charity, which provides a free courier service to the NHS, transporting urgently needed blood, drugs, human tissues or medical supplies.
He and two colleagues have passed a Blue Light Response Training course run by Devon and Cornwall Police which means they can get their life saving cargo swiftly to local hospitals at any time of the day or night.
For the first time Devon Freewheelers, founded by Exeter based Dan Lavery and entirely funded by donations, can offer its service to North Devon and help save the local NHS money.
It is also the first â€œblood bikeâ€ charity to be trained by a police force. The blue light course enables Andy and the other riders to do everything the police can, except pursuit, making them exempt from various traffic restrictions apart from speed limits.
Driving instructor Dan was inspired to set up the charity after his wife needed seven pints of lifesaving blood during a traumatic childbirth. Happily both wife and child came through the ordeal, but Dan was amazed when the blood she needed arrived via motorcycle in the middle of the night. He sold his house to set up the charity and has dedicated himself to extending it across Devon.
â€œNow that Andy has passed his test the service can be offered to North Devon and we would really like local people to embrace this charity,â€ he said.
â€œIt is offered completely free to the NHS. Last year we did 2,000 jobs at a cost of ï¿½25,000, but that saved the NHS ï¿½120,000.
â€œEveryone who has received out of hours blood had it arrive on the back of a bike. Most people donâ€™t see us or are ever aware of us. We never meet the recipients and they have no idea a volunteer has got out of their bed in the middle of the night to help their recovery.â€
Devon Freewheelers is looking for a number of new volunteers, including riders, fund raisers and administrators. Bikers need to pass an advanced driving test, but this can be provided.
New bikes are also needed and any companies or individuals willing to donate a suitable modern motorcycle or funds towards one are urged to get in touch.
For more information go to www.devonfreewheelers.org.uk or telephone 0845 8940844.
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