A GROUP of advanced motorcyclists are providing a silent emergency service across Worcestershire and neighbouring counties by transporting blood, pathology samples, patient scans and X-rays and other medical essentials to local hospitals.

These volunteers make up Severn Freewheelers – a regional section of the National Association of Blood Bikes (NABB) – and they provide a free out-of-hours courier service which saves the NHS thousands of pounds each year.

This week the NABB aims to raise awareness of these unsung heroes through National Blood Bike Awareness Day on Friday (August 12) and attract funds, new fundraisers, volunteer riders and dispatchers, who field calls from hospitals and plans the riders’ routes.

Severn Freewheelers, a charity and founder member of the NASS, operates in Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and North Wiltshire. It runs a fleet of six emergency response equipped motorcycles modified to carry packages for the NHS. More than 70 volunteers help Severn Freewheelers carry out this vital service.

Each motorcycle covers around 30,000 miles a year and each shift, which involved a dispatcher and three riders, is from 7pm to 7am the following day and 24 hours at weekends and public holidays when four riders are used to cope with extra demand.

Emergency calls take priority and the riders, who all hold a current advanced riding qualification and receive extra training in emergency response riding and the transport of goods, use blue lights for these.

In the first eight years of Severn Freewheelers, the service had answered 25,000 calls and covered more than one million miles.

The charity’s principle aim is to alleviate suffering by transporting medical essentials, free of charge, between NHS facilities. This includes blood, blood products, pathology samples, frozen human milk and other medical essentials.

Former Hereford mayor Councillor Charles Nicholls said: “Blood bikes provide a vital service and the bikers selflessly give of their free time and riding skills in all weathers to save lives.

“I encourage all to support them in all their endeavours and perhaps when one appears in your vicinity, put your hands together and give them the encouragement they deserve.”

For more information about Severn Freewheelers visit www.severnfreewheelers.org.uk/ and for more details about NABB visit www.thenabb.org.uk/

• NABB comprises 33 regional charities with 1,500 volunteer blood bikers, who work with 272 hospitals. They are on call 365 days a year.

• In 2014 alone, NABB groups responded to 39,000 urgent requests saving multiple lives. The NABB groups comprises of skilled, dedicated people who help others and this has a positive impact on local communities, saving the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds in courier costs.

• NABB member groups have over a fleet of more than 120 emergency response vehicles.