Runners' fundraising it the life-blood of our vital work
Bike Controller Graham Dunne tells Brenda McCormick about a volunteer life-saving service
Blood Bike East transfers blood, milk, medication, and medical equipment to hospitals.
The service was set up by volunteers to help hospitals save money on the delivery and movement of medical goods and we also hope to free up ambulances for more pressing front line emergencies.
The concept originated in the UK in the 1950s and has now spread to these shores. In 2014 we completed 1,670 call outs, saving hospitals nearly €100,000 and last year our volunteers did a total of 91,981 hours of service.
One of our volunteers is Michael Noonan, who recalls one particular day working with Blood Bike East.
"Late in the evening, I received a call from our controller in relation to an urgent milk run to one of Dublin's maternity hospitals. The call involved heading to Kells to collect a shipment of donor breast milk coming from the milk bank in Northern Ireland.
"After collecting the package, I headed back to Dublin and the high dependency unit in the maternity Hospital. As I approached the door of the HDU, a couple opened the door for me and something about them caught my eye.
"I walked down to the nurses' station and was met by a beautiful smile from a nurse with the comment, 'We were just talking about you, great to see you!'.
"The unit was full, the doctors, nurses and machines all keeping safe the tiny babies born before their time.
"The nurse told me the couple at the door were the parents of the premature baby I had just done the run for.
"The child was very poorly and the donor breast milk was the child's only hope to feed and hopefully boost his immune system to fight the infection.
"As I walked to the door to leave it was opened for me by the child's father and just as I was out into the hall I heard, 'Hold on,' I looked around, 'Thank you,' the child's mother said.
"I have huge pride in the service our volunteers do. Our riders are from all walks of life and give hundreds of hours of their time to help others: volunteering at its best.
"With a fleet of five bikes now in operation fundraising is essential to our survival and keeping our bikes on the road.
"Our volunteers covered 75,000km last year, that's almost twice around the earth!
"All our donations go to maintaining our fleet of second-hand bikes, everything from fuel, tyres and oil changes, to SAT NAVS and comms kits.
"As the bikes cover so many miles we need to replace a bike every one to two years at a cost of €6,000 to €8,000 a bike.
"Events like the VHI Women's Mini Marathon help raise those essential funds and many of our members' wives and daughters are entering the event this year to raise money for Blood Bike East."