POLICE officers who set up a voluntary blood-run service have been hailed for their life-saving efforts.
Hartlepool police community support officers Jon Formstone and Mark Say set up the Tees Valley Blood Bike service to back-up the NHS courier system.
Since launching the motorbike operation in July, a team of standby riders have been called to take items such as blood, diagnostic specimens and medical equipment – sometimes in blue-light emergencies – around 30 times.
District Commander Glenn Gudgeon, of Hartlepool Police, said: “The people of Hartlepool and beyond should be extremely proud of all the hard work and effort that these officers have put into starting such a worthwhile scheme in this area.
“I know they are just as dedicated to their roles within Cleveland Police, and it is an asset to the force that we have these two kind-hearted officers.”
As well as saving lives, the blood bike initiative saves the NHS money by providing voluntary motorbike riders on evenings and weekends when the internal courier system is not operating.
Paul Urwin, from the pathology department at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic service, which not only benefits local people but provides a fast and efficient out of hours delivery service.”
Jon, 36, hopes the service will now grow and is looking for more volunteer motorbikers to help out.
He said: “Both myself, Mark and our other supporters are extremely passionate about the Blood Bikes.
“To know that you are potentially saving someone’s life is a fantastic thing. We just want the service to grow, and with support from the public and partners we truly believe it will.”
The idea of Blood Bikes started in October 2009 when Jon saw a reference to the National Association of Blood Bikes on the internet while looking for bike parts.
He found out the nearest service was in West Yorkshire led by a charity called the White Knights. But that there was no service covering Cleveland.
The pair approached the charity who agreed for them to set up a satellite branch under the White Knights’ umbrella.
In order to raise money to start the service, Jon, Mark and other supporters completed a 3,000-mile bike trip around the UK with the aim of raising £10,000 for fuel and a bike in which to launch the service.
But thanks to local media coverage, motorbikes were donated and were soon kitted out while a board was set up with chairman Steve Basford at the helm.
The bikes were up and running on June 6, providing a service to the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees.
Mark, 28, said: “The aim of bringing the Blood Bikes to fruition was to save lives, save money and put something back into local communities.
“Being a PCSO is a worthwhile role in which you work to protect the public and resolve neighbourhood priorities.”
Anyone wanting to get involved in becoming a volunteer motorcyclist needs to be over 25, have no more than six points on their licence and have an advanced certificate. Advanced training can be arranged through the Royal Society fro the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA).
Those wanting further information can contact Mark Say at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.bloodrun.co.uk