Riding For Life
Freewheelers EVS is a registered charity, which offers an out of hours and free of charge courier service to the NHS. Our slogan "Riding for Life" describes our operation perfectly. We ride to play our part in saving peoples lives and we ride to save the NHS money that would otherwise be wasted on taxis or expensive couriers, but more than anything else we ride because we love it. In 2008, in recognition of the dedicated work of our volunteers, we were given The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest honour that a voluntary group can receive, equivalent in status to an MBE.

Our service is provided by volunteers and we depend entirely on public sponsorship and donations.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service Logo - MBE Strapg

 

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Hours of operation

We operate from 19:00 through to 07:00 week days (Monday to Thursday) and 24 hours at weekends (19:00 on Friday to 07:00 Monday) and 24 hours a day on bank holidays.

To use our service call the duty co-ordinator on 0300 800 1907

We choose to use specially adapted motorcycles to give us the maximum flexibility and the best response time, however there are times when it would be unsafe to operate a motorcycle e.g. in thick fog, during snow storms, or other extremes of weather. Our riders are a hardy bunch that operate in all but the very worst weather, so we ask for your understanding if we are unable to operate for rider safety reasons.

Items Carried

We are happy to deliver any of the following items:

  • Blood for transfusion, platelets, or other blood products which must be supplied to us in the appropriate insulated packaging. Our bikes are fitted with a rack so that we can take the largest insulated box with ease.
  • Blood, urine, or other tissue samples for analysis by pathology and microbiology laboratories, all of which are transported in accordance with regulation UN3373.
  • X-Rays, scans and CD-ROMs
  • Patient notes
  • Frozen breast milk
  • Any other medical items or small pieces of medical equipment such as syringes and cannulas
Please bear in mind we use bikes equipped with panniers and an external rack, so don't ask us to carry a large item like a wheelchair - people have asked! All items must be signed for at pick up and delivery. We have arrangements with most of the major hospitals to use facilities such as switchboard, porters lodge or Accident & Emergency if a particular department will be closed when we pick up or deliver. The charity currently runs four bikes in day-to-day service plus four spares. We use liveried BMW R1200RT bikes fitted with blue lights and sirens so that deliveries classified as an emergency can be delivered safely and quickly. This enables riders to make safe progress through congested traffic more effectively than any alternatives.

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Coverage Area We are happy to make deliveries to hospitals, clinics and residential psychiatric or geriatric homes. Please see the next section for important information about delivery to private addresses. For a list of the more common hospitals served by Freewheelers EVS see our cool Hospital Coverage page powered by Google Maps. Our bikes mainly operate in the following areas:
  • North Bike: Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
  • East Bike: Bath & North East Somerset, West Wiltshire including Chippenham, Devizes, Trowbridge, Warminster and Westbury.
  • West Bike: Covers most of the county of Somerset including Taunton, Bridgwater, Burham-on-Sea, Wells, Glastonbury, Minehead, Shepton Mallet, Wellington and all points in-between.
  • Relief Bike: Used to give tired riders a break, complete urgent calls when all the other bikes are busy or complex requests across the Freewheelers area of operation.

Deliveries within Freewheelers normal area of coverage, whether exclusively in one area or between different areas e.g. Taunton to Bristol will be made free of charge, despite the route involving both the West and North areas. Longer trips outside our area will attract a reasonable £0.66+VAT per (one-way) mile charge, which covers our bike running costs. No matter where we deliver to our volunteer riders and co-ordinators always give their time free of charge. In the past we have been happy to make deliveries to hospitals as far away as Birmingham, Cardiff and London. We can also make deliveries to a wider area by arranging a handover to neighbouring blood bike groups such as Dorset or Severn Freewheelers.
Deliveries to private addresses We may make occasional deliveries of medical supplies to private addresses or nursing homes only if no other transport is available. This category of job frequently causes problems; we will not undertake them as a regular requirement. We ask you to understand that we will only make such deliveries under the following conditions:
  • We will not deliver non-medical or non-urgent items e.g. a patient's personal possessions.
  • We must be supplied with a telephone number, and a full address with post-code. Please ensure that somebody will be in to receive the package. If you cannot provide a contact number for the delivery address then we will refuse to accept the job.
  • On weekday evenings we will only accept jobs that we can deliver before 9pm. This is because we have had several instances where the arrival of a biker late at night has caused significant concern or distress to the recipient. We will also call the patient to ensure there is someone expecting us to make a delivery and that there will be someone to receive (sign for) the delivery.
  • We are very happy to make a delivery to a medical professional such as a midwife or community nurse attending a patient's home. However, a telephone number must be given so that we can confirm times and directions.
  • Deliveries are undertaken at the rider's discretion. We reserve the right to refuse a delivery if there is any potential or perceived threat to the rider's personal safety.
Call categories When a hospital or clinic calls Freewheelers EVS to request our help, the on-duty co-ordinator will log all details including a contact name, precise pickup and delivery locations, and contents. The co-ordinator will also discuss the urgency of the delivery and agree with the caller to assign one of three categories:
  • Non Urgent: Deliveries that must be made before 7:00am the next morning. These deliveries will be completed but will take a lower priority if an urgent or emergency call is received.
  • Urgent: Deliveries that must be made as soon as possible, or within an urgent timescale.
  • Emergency: Deliveries that involve a risk to a patient's life. These are the highest priority and are the only ones that justify the use of blue lights and sirens. Please select this category only when justified and appropriate. Please note: A senior medical member of staff will be asked by our coordinator to authorise the call is life threatening and requires the use of blue lights and sirens.
If you wish to use our service please be sure you have all the details available. If anything changes while the rider is en-route to you then please let either the co-ordinator or rider know. We will be happy to change the category of a call if circumstances change e.g. a patient's condition deteriorates and a delivery needs to be changed from Urgent to Emergency. Equally, if a delivery becomes unnecessary, please inform us and save us a wasted trip.
Health & Safty Freewheelers EVS takes the topic of health and safety very seriously and has equipped each bike with UN3373 compliant containers to hold any biological items, such as blood or tissue samples, that might pose an infection hazard to the rider, or anyone who might come into contact with them. All deliveries are closely tracked. Riders must notify the on-duty co-ordinator when a delivery is completed and also when they reach home. Riders must also notify the co-ordinator if anything changes with the delivery e.g. at the time of pickup the rider is requested to upgrade the call from Urgent to Emergency. Riders and co-ordinators are also made aware of procedures to be followed in the case of spillage of any biological substance carried on the bikes. As well as all of our riders having achieved a recognised national qualification in advanced motorcycling, all riders are periodically assessed to ensure that this standard is maintained and are encouraged to seek further training as appropriate. There are strong links with local advanced training organisations, including Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) groups. Several Freewheelers members are observer or senior observer level, and others have independently recognised advanced instructor qualifications. Freewheelers EVS has full public and employer's liability insurance cover. We are also happy to cooperate should you wish to complete a risk assessment prior to using our service. Please note that our service may be withdrawn in extreme weather conditions as ice, snow and fog are not safe for motorcyclists. We ask for your understanding on the rare occasions that this happens.

Further information

If you have any questions about the service that we offer, please do not hesitate to ask. Use the Contact Form, or contact one of the charity's officers whose details can be found on the Contact Form.

Hospitals and other NHS organisations wishing to use the Freewheelers EVS service should call our duty coordinator on 0300 800 1907.

Monday-Friday - 19:00 to 07:00

Weekends & Bank Holidays - 24 hours