As county co-ordinator for Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers, Sussex (SERV Sussex), I thought I would bite the bullet and let you know what this voluntary role involves.
Every day is different to the next:
Firstly, I work as part of a team with all of the other volunteers and committee members and we come from all walks of life, some working, some retired. For me, no two days are the same, so I have picked an average one; not too busy with the day job and not too busy with SERV business.
Manning the phones:
This happens to be a day when I was also in charge of the dedicated SERV Sussex phone, dispatching volunteers into the night to collect samples from hospitals, deliver them to London, and collect life-saving blood and blood products for urgent delivery to the Sussex Hospital Trusts.
ALL of this is provided FREE of charge to the local Hospital Trusts.
Like all of our riders and drivers, I am a volunteer in the true sense; I receive no payment for my role in the charity. We work closely with SERV Surrey and South London (SERV SSL) to ensure rapid transport of products in and out of London; thanks guys for your help!
The morning ride:
My day begins with the daily ride on the Ducati to the office and lab where I work; this clears my head and gets me ready for the day. I have a research lab at The University of Sussex and teach Biochemistry as my day job. Needless to say this keeps me busy but I usually have to blur the lines a bit and deal with some SERV Sussex business during the day as well.
Finding the funds:
This involves borrowing the odd hour to work on writing grants for funding or securing collections at local supermarkets at the weekends; these are essential to find funds to keep our marked vehicles on the road.
My job is also to ensure that Sussex has coverage every night of the year, tweaking the on-line rota and arranging for vehicles to move around the county if needed.
I also check the log from the runs the previous night to see what has been happening overnight in the county.
Waiting for the call:
At the end of my working day, a blast on the bike gets me back home in time to make some food and to be ready and waiting for when the SERV Sussex phone goes live at 7pm.
In Sussex, volunteer bike riders and drivers work on a rota, generally making themselves available one night in fourteen, waiting to respond to an urgent call relayed via their county phone controller; tonight that is me!
The first urgent call comes in at 7.05pm; handover is arranged with SERV SSL and I call the first volunteer; he had just had his dinner and he heads out to collect some urgent platelets for Worthing hospital.
SERV volunteers generally use their own machines and pay for the petrol themselves.
Before 9pm, I have two more calls from hospitals requiring urgent samples to be delivered to the NBS at Tooting and St. Thomas’ Hospital; I dispatch two riders and arrange hand-over of these to SERV SSL who complete the relay for us from just inside the M25.
No rest for the wicked:
It goes quiet for a bit so I get on with some work and SERV paperwork; the phone rings again at 10.30pm; I dispatch a rider to carry out an urgent transfer of blood between local hospitals. I finally give up on work and get to bed about 11.30pm; the SERV phone comes with me!
Working through the night:
Just as well as at 2.20am, SERV Sussex are requested to transport some very urgent samples to Tooting; the doctor needs the results now! I wake up one of our volunteers and send him off to pick up the sample from the hospital lab and then take it to Tooting.
No grumbles, no complaints about the time of day or the weather, he simply got up and went out on the SERV Sussex marked bike! I went back to sleep but I was aware of, and acknowledged his text later saying that the run was complete and he was heading home for a cup of tea. Before I knew it, it was time to get up and head off to the day job.
I knew we had done a good job the night before and maybe saved a life or two in the process. The bonus was I had a ride ahead of me!
Simon Morely is a Professor of Biochemistry; he started volunteering for SERV Sussex in 2008 and became a SERV co-ordinator in 2010. Simon rides a Ducati Diavel, he moved to Brighton from Switzerland in 1992 and was born in Jersey in 1960.