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Unusual undertakings: The blood biker

Blackpool funeral director and keen motorcyclist Scott Etheridge volunteers his time – and wheels – to transport urgent medical supplies for the NHS

I have been a keen motorcyclist for more than 40 years and had seen blood bikes out and about. I was looking for something to do that was completely outside my normal working life.

Everyone involved is a volunteer and all blood bike groups are charities.

Nearly all of our work is ‘out of hours’, so that’s obviously evenings, weekends and bank holidays. 

We will transport anything that fits on a bike and is deemed urgent by a clinician. This can include blood and blood products such as platelets and plasma.

We transport baby milk because some newborns need human milk as opposed to formula. There are a number of milk banks dotted around that provide the milk to be taken to the neonatal or maternity unit that has requested it. 

We can also carry samples either to, or between pathology labs. As you can imagine we have been exceptionally busy during Covid 19.

Finally, we can carry patient notes, controlled drugs and surgical equipment. Often we don’t actually know what we’re carrying, just that it’s urgent. 

Being a funeral director teaches you to be patient, have empathy and above all listen to what people are saying.

Being a biker teaches you to be aware of your surroundings and other people’s actions.

I ride with the principle that half the drivers cannot see me, and the ones that can are out to get me!

When we’re out and about, we often get waved at. I have come out to my bike to find packets of sweets, notes of thanks, and even money left by well-wishers. 

My two worlds have ‘collided’ on a number of occasions when I have conducted funerals for bikers. 

Recently, a family told me that a newborn child needed urgent, life-saving treatment which required blood platelets being transported by our group. 

The baby survived, and the family have kindly donated a sizeable amount of cash to the charity. 

As told to Sharon Barnard  

This is a preview of a feature article.

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