How It Began
Blood bikes have been in operation since 1962 when Margaret Ryerson formed the Emergency Volunteer Service (E.V.S.) in Surrey, South London, England. This was followed by the ‘Freewheelers’ action group in Stevenage, England in 1969 who initially served hospitals in Stevenage, Luton, Dunstable, Bedford and Hitchin. These originals groups are no longer operating, but they inspired other groups to provide similar services.
The third group, which still operates today, was the Yeovil Freewheelers, founded in 1978, and this was followed by SERV which formed shortly after E.V.S. disbanded in Surrey, South London.
In April 1981 in Surrey, Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers was set up to supply a quick and reliable means of transporting emergency blood products to the hospitals and medical facilities at night.
Prior to SERV the only means available to hospitals, doctors and other medical establishments for the transport of emergency blood supplies at night were the following:
- Transfusion service vehicle
Each of these options had good and bad points:
- Taxis: The advantage of these was that there were plenty of them. The disadvantage was reliability and cost. The cost to hospitals would range from £30 – £60 or more depending on location. The hospital also had to wait for one to be available and it was not guaranteed how long it would take to deliver.
- Ambulance: Fast and able to respond quickly. The disadvantage was it removed a much-needed emergency vehicle from service during the transport time.
- Police: Fast and able to respond quickly. The disadvantage was it removed a much-needed emergency vehicle from service during the transport time.
- Courier: Limited availability during the night. High cost for service
- Transfusion Service: Provide regular day-time scheduled hospital deliveries, and Ad-Hoc deliveries to hospitals on special request.
SERV supplies this service free of any charge thus freeing up much-needed funds for improved patient care and other needed facilities within the hospital.
View video here for a brief history