Airbus worker Mike’s bike challenge during coronavirus crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone’s daily life but for bike enthusiast Mike Wright his voluntary work as an NHS courier has never been so important.
For the last 18 months, Mike has volunteered for Merseyside and Cheshire Blood Bikes (MCBB), delivering emergency medical supplies for the overstretched NHS.
“I’ve been a blood donor for 40 years and I’m approaching my 108th donation next week,” says Mike, who works at Airbus’ wing-manufacturing plant in Broughton, North Wales.
“The blood-bike volunteering just came out of that. I chatted to a blood-bike volunteer at a local hospital and it went from there. I just love motorbikes – I’ve been riding them since the age of 13, before I could ride a push bike!”
Mike is part of a 100-volunteer support group for MCBB, from telephone operators to the bike riders, covering an area from Aintree to Warrington.
“Typically, a phone operator takes the call from a hospital asking for a bike rider to collect emergency supplies – it can be anything from blood or breast milk, to medical equipment or medical notes. The operator then contacts me to tell me what to pick up and where to take it.”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Airbus has donated 1.4million protective masks to the NHS and is part of the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium, with 500 staff working round-the-clock to produce ventilator components for the UK government at the Broughton-based AMRC Wales reseach facility.
Mike, who rides a Yamaha FJR 1300 marked as a blood bike, adds. “It’s very similar to a Police bike. I took advanced motorbike training; it wasn’t easy, and I’m proud to have gained a ROSPA Silver licence. I’ve also been trained to carry the blood to keep it at the right temperature and away from contaminants.”
While Mike rides all times of day and night and in all weather during the crisis, he normally volunteers at weekends. “We join a rota showing our availability and it can be 3 hours or 40 hours; it’s as much or as little as you can do.”
Mike and his fellow volunteers are continuing to ride and deliver blood and vital NHS equipment, despite the impact of coronavirus: “It’s got stricter on safety, so I go to the hospital door and a nurse will bring it out, so we keep the safe distance,” he says.
“The coronavirus is a national emergency but the need for blood bikes doesn’t stop. If anything it’s got busier, perhaps because of all the testing going on. We’re practising social distancing and hand hygiene, just like everyone else.
“Airbus has been very supportive of my volunteering,” continues Mike. “There is even a regular blood donation on site at Broughton. Giving blood is one of the simplest ways to help people and save a life. There is always a need for blood and with coronavirus, hospitals are having trouble finding donors at present.”
Mike says he rarely hears the outcome after delivering the emergency supplies: “I’ve had the odd call from operators saying I’ve made a difference, but you never really know how,” he says.
“But I just like helping people. It was instilled in me when I was in the Armed Forces as a reservist. It’s a good feeling walking in to a hospital knowing I could make a big difference to someone’s life.”
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