Twenty-five years ago, Garry Frost was using a thermos flask and a push bike to transport breast milk between his wife and premature baby in hospital.
Now, he’s part of an army of Blood Bikes Wales riders who give their time for free to deliver much-needed blood and milk for the NHS.
The charity works out-of-hours sending volunteers on motorbikes to immediately transport supplies and samples where they are needed, making a difference to someone’s life that day.
Mr Frost, who runs his own kitchen and bathroom company in Llanberis by day, said it was his own personal experiences that inspired him to become a representative when the North West group was launched over a year ago.
“My wife had a premature birth 25 years ago and I was doing a milk run then between the hospital and mum using a thermos flask and a push bike,” he said.
“When our youngest daughter was born there were also complications.
“Six months later, I went to a bike show and met a chap with a Blood Bikes logo on his back and thought it was a fantastic idea, but there wasn’t a group in the area that I could go and volunteer for.
“But at the beginning of last year, I got chatting with a few people and found out there was a Blood Bike group starting in North Wales.
“It was something I just had to join.”
Before the organisation was set up, the NHS used the police, ambulance service, taxis and couriers to carry vital supplies out of hours.
Mr Frost and his wife are among the 320 volunteers across Wales which include advanced riders, controllers and fundraisers saving the overstretched health service money and resources.
He said: “In the North West group, we’ve got 18 riders and a small group of controllers.
“Across Wales, we’ve got 17 bikes running.
“What happens is, we have one controller covering the whole of Wales who will man the phone.
“When a call comes in, the controller will contact the nearest available rider to transport whatever’s needed to wherever it’s needed.
“If it’s medicine, we can pick it up and take it to a patient’s house.
“If it’s donated breast milk, we can pick it up from a mum and take it to the Countess of Chester to be pasteurised ready for it to be given to any hospital that needs it.”
The service is entirely reliant on good will and donations and every penny raised goes towards running the bikes.
It costs £3,500 to keep each machine on the road.
Mr Frost added: “Everyone who goes in to hospital presumes the blood is there ready to go, but it isn’t always the case.
“In some hospitals they have a blood bank, in other hospitals they don’t and obviously, they will only have a certain amount of blood of any one type.
“If an urgent blood transfusion is needed, if a sample needs urgent testing, or if a premature baby needs breast milk, that’s where we step in.
“Wherever supplies are needed, a relay can be arranged between riders who will meet each other on their patch borders so we don’t lose a rider from whichever area for longer than needed.”
Blood Bikes Wales’ core work is from 7pm until 10pm from Monday to Thursday.
At weekends, they are available from 7pm on Fridays through to 10pm on Sundays, and even operates on Christmas Day.
They are the bigest group covering eight main areas and every single hospital.
Mr Frost said: “In the North West, we put a lot more miles on the bikes because of the area we have to cover.
“In the last 12 months, we covered 29,500 miles and dealt with roughly 270 in-hour routine calls which is Bangor to Penrhos Stanley.
“I think we did something like 82 out of hours calls during the night and over the weekends.
“Basically, we do what we can do, we can’t do what an ambulance does but we can step in so that its free to go and save lives.”
Speaking about his worthy role, Mr Frost said people have thanked the charity for saving their life.
“You do get satisfaction out of providing a much-needed service,” he said.
“Once, a mother and daughter needed blood for a transfusion, they knew nothing about us, they presumed the blood was already there at the hospital.
“When they found out about us, they came along to one of our supermarket collections and asked us if there was anything they could do to thank us.
“We asked them to take part in some videos being shot by students in Cardiff and they were more than happy to oblige.
“It was brilliant, it just sums up what we’re here for and how we can affect people that we’ll never meet.”
Mr Frost added: “We don’t do it for the glory or to gain medals or anything like that.
“We do it because we all need the NHS and we’ve all got something to give back.”
Samantha Jones, a medical laboratory assistant at Ysbyty Gwynedd appreciates the importance of the Blood Bikes.
She said: “The service is really vital to us here.
“Thanks to Blood Bikes, we get samples brought in immediately for urgent testing and can therefore diagnose a lot earlier than we’d be able to otherwise.”
The charity has vastly reduced transport costs and can get around quicker, with each pound donated to them saving the NHS £5.
But the service could always use more help and is desperate for volunteers.
Mr Frost said: “Because we’re now able to give the NHS a more comprehensive service to save them money, we are putting more hours so we’re desperate for riders, controllers and fundraisers.
“Anyone who can give anything, whether it’s donations or time would be much appreciated.”
* For more information, visit bloodbikeswales.org.uk or call 0300 303 3352.
Source : DailyPost