Community Service/ Life In The Blood Runners Fast Lane 2020

Club member Ken Smith volunteers as a Blood Runner, delivering blood (and MILK!) to those in need. This is his Covid-19 update on Facing the Covid-19 challenge - life In The Blood Runners Fast Lane.

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A Hero Of Our Own

Ken Smith Updates us on Life In The Blood Runners Fast Lane

My work with ESSEX BLOOD RUNNERS?  Wow, what a difference a month makes!!
At the beginning of March, I was one of 48 Members servicing nine Essex and East London hospitals. Overnight Monday to Thursday, and from 7pm Fridays to 6am Mondays.

Then Covid-19 LOCKDOWN happened!! As of today, the Essex Blood Runners team numbers 131, yes 131!! And growing each day. Probably gone up since I started writing this!

That has changed how we do things a lot.  In “normal” times, we would get access after-hours through A&E, go straight to Pathology and drop the box(es). Mission accomplished.

Now, with social distancing and risk of infection, A&E is the last place we want to go through.  Some of us now don’t do these runs because of infection risk. So, in many of the hospitals, access is ONLY through main entrances, often with a security guard to check us through.

Hospital Rules

Then there is sanitizing at every opportunity!  And at least two hospitals – Broomfield and Queens – are in lockdown, with their own rules about whether we can actually access Pathology.  Broomfield insists on phone calls prior to arrival and a staff member comes to the door to collect.

At the blood bank we have to be clearly checked through and then when we get to our collection hatch there are distancing rules to observe. Keeping 2m distance between us and blood bank personnel – stepping forward, stepping back, stepping forward, …well, you get it, eh? And don’t forget the hand sanitizing! My hands have never been so clean!!!

One week ago, our controller put the team on 24/7 service. That is now extended through May. Calls appear to be averaging four to eight per rota (7am to 7pm and 7pm to 7am), particularly daytimes.

As from April 15, Blood Runners are offering a prescription collection service for delivery to vulnerable patients in Essex. Just call our Controller on 07581-471859 if you think the team can help.

Air Ambulance and Milk Runs

Add to this, the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust.  Every night of the year a member goes to Earls Colne, collects the previous shift box, heads to Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, hands it in and collects two new boxes. New arrangements mean that we only go about seven metres into the hospital at the rear reception area. Boxes are swapped (minimal contact) and we leave. A couple of minutes at most. Delivery of one box is made to North Weald before then going back up to Earls Colne to deliver theirs for next day.

Earls Colne is still running 12 hours a day, not overnight. North Weald operates 24/7 so every morning a member goes out to them, collects their “old” box and delivers it back to Princess Alexandra Hospital. That process operates 365 days a year and has done, without missing one night, since March 2019. Generally, there is minimal contact with any of the Air Ambulance or Hospital teams.

Day And Night!

Then there are the milk runs. Not sure how many at the moment but donations continue to be collected and delivered either to Addenbrookes Hospital or Hearts Milk Bank in Hertfordshire. Plus, deliveries from the milk banks to hospitals in need.
I am regarded by our controller, Carol, to be in the vulnerable category (for all the right reasons you understand!!).

There’s a group of us and our duties are focussed purely on Air Ambulance work at the moment. We’re letting the “young bucks” take on the other work!! Day and night!

On top of all this, the people we do meet, nurses, doctors, admin, pilots etc. ALL greet us with a smile and cheery welcome! Irrespective of the pressures they are under and how long they’ve been on shift. THAT, is more reward than you can appreciate, believe me. In a short space of time, my respect for all these people has grown exponentially.
Keep safe, keep sane everyone.