It’s Monday night, there I am at work, just thinking about all the house work I’ve got to do over the next two days at home on my days off… When my phone went off, it was from Tim Bennett, an urgent message asking for a night controller for following night… “hope they manage to get someone”…
Tuesday morning up at 9 o’clock, ‘yes I had a bit of a lay in!’
Breakfast eaten… coffee drank… Dog walked… house work done all by 1 o’clock good A!!
Switched computer on, signed on to my e-mail, I can see the message from Tim from last night… I’m not working tomorrow… looked at my SERVWESSEX folder with all the controller information and documents in… looked back at the message again, ‘Am I ready? No!’, my first shift on the rota is not until middle of November shall I wait until then?
‘Hang on Nikki, you can do this’… So I picked up the phone and called Tim. No answer, left a message ‘Hi Tim, Nikki here, if no-one else has offered to work tonight then I will, as long as I can call on someone if I need help’. I put the phone down.
1,2,3 o’clock no call back… Maybe they’ve managed to get someone else…that’s ok. Then the phone rings, ‘Hi Nikki, It’s Tim here, you’ve got the job’.
My pulse starts racing and my heart’s pumping, OMG what have I done…
Tim talked me through putting my home and mobile number on to the Flextel system, he also asked me to give Southampton blood bank a call at 8pm, to see if they needed any runs to go to Lymington that night so that we could arrange it ahead of time, then he reassured me that he was at the end of the phone if I needed any help at all.
About 20mins later got an e-mail from Tim letting everyone know that I was the controller for the night and that I was a first time controller, within 10 minutes of that e-mail going out I received four phone calls from other members saying that if I needed any help no matter what time of the night, I could call them if I needed to… Very reassuring I must say.
Logged onto www.ecweather.co.uk to check on the weather, shows temp over our Servwessex area, hourly, so I could keep an eye on the temperatures throughout the night.
All three of my riders called me in plenty of time, I asked them for contact numbers, what vehicle they had and what the Reg was, and if they were happy to travel to Warminster which is the furthest place we go.
I received my first call at 19.10 from Hampshire hospital, Basingstoke from Olivia, who told me it was her first time for calling SERV WESSEX, ‘Two newbies together I told her’ she wanted us to pick up 5 big boxes of blood and blood products from Southampton blood bank and to take it to her at Basingstoke, so I took her contact number and told her ETA would be approx hour and a half. I looked at my map of our area and saw that one of my riders lived in the middle of the two locations approx. 40mins from each location.
I called Kate Davies (Winchester) and gave her the details, she confirmed that the whole trip would take about hour and a half, as there was 5 boxes to transport she went by car, allowing her time to get ready she left about 10mins later, at 19.45 she called to say that she was at Southampton blood bank and ready to leave, her travel time to Basingstoke would be 40-45mins.
20.00 I called Southampton blood bank, turns out I had called the path lab, so not sure on what was what I called Tim Bennett, who was happy to give me the correct number I needed, gave them a call, no runs were needed.
In between Kate travelling to Basingstoke, and me calling the blood bank, Salisbury Distract hospital called asking for two boxes to be collected from Southampton blood bank and to be delivered back to them… I called Larry Staines (Fareham) and gave him the details and said that blood would not be ready until 9pm.
Kate called at 20.30 to say that she had arrived at Basingstoke, she had delivered the blood, and said that she would take about 40mins to get home. 21.00 she text me, arrived home, receipt book number… I text back Thanks Kate, took a note of receipt number.
Larry called at 21.15 he had arrived at blood bank, he said that it would take about 45mins to get to Salisbury so off he went…. ‘Oh well time for a coffee I thinks
22.00 Larry called… arrived at Salisbury, delivered blood, gave receipt number… 22.15 driving home will take about 45mins. 23.10 Larry arrived home.
Two runs done, two riders back home safely.
Earlier in the evening a got an E-mail from Sean Nye wishing me good luck for the night and offering help, he also asked that if I wanted to, I might like to write about my experiences of my first controller shift, so I open my laptop and started to type…
00.15 Portsmouth QA called need 1 box of blood collected from Southampton blood bank and delivered back to them at QA.
Called Leon Britten (Gosport) 00.20, gave him the details said that he would take about 40mins to get to Blood Bank.
01.08 Leon arrived at blood bank, would take about 45mins to get to QA.
01.15 Basingstoke called they needed box of platelets collected from Southampton blood bank and delivered back to them at Basingstoke.
01.25 called Kate asked if she could do another run, gave her details…..45mins to blood bank
01.45 Leon arrived at QA ready to deliver blood.
01.50 Kate arrived and collected… 45mins to Basingstoke.
02.00 Leon called saying that he has been ringing the doorbell for a while with no answer, called Helen at QA, told her that Leon had been there for a while but not getting an answer, while she was on the phone with me she went to door, called Leon back to let him know that Helen was on her way, he said that he could see her from the window, Helen pointed out the doorbell to ring in future.. sorted.
02.05 Leon called delivered blood, gave me receipt number, left to go home… approx. 15mins.
02.20 Leon text I’m home…text back thanks Leon
02.40 Kate called delivered to Basingstoke. leaving for home… about 45mins.
03.00 Kate texted arrived home… giving receipt number… Text back thanks Kate, noted down receipt number.
Now!!! Four runs completed and a total of 9 boxes collected and delivered… all riders back home safe and sound... not bad.
Snuggled down and fell asleep… I am tired. Didn’t get any more calls for the rest of the night.
Woke up at 10am, yep I did have a lay in. Had breakfast… coffee… walked the dog.
Open up my laptop and started to type again…
You know what? I was nervous, I was apprehensive about what would happen… what if something went wrong… what do I do… but most importantly, I did have backup… I could call on someone, which I did… I knew that the backup was there, by all the messages of help and support I received on the night.
For all the newbies riders and controllers, take the plunge, you will be nervous, but with all the help and support on offer… I’m sure the experience will be fulfilling and rewarding, knowing that through your effect, you have done your part to help save lives.
First shift done, hopefully many more shifts to come…
Thanks to all
Nikki Wearn xx
Bridget H (duty controller) had a call from Devon Free Wheelers for assistance to get a tissue sample to Harefield Hospital Middlesex from Plymouth. Re a match for an organ transplant.
She discussed the run & possible Dorchester RV point and said she needed to arrange a change over with another SERV group for onward transportation.
Surrey was contacted but they said the hospital was out of their area but would try to help if needed.
At this point I contacted Tim and informed him of the run and that I may have to take it all the way to the hospital. He said you have to do what has to be done.
It’s worth noting that this job was urgent and had to be delivered that day and if we were unable to help then Devon F/w were prepared to take it all the way.
Bucks & Herts contacted and they said the hospital was only just outside their area so were willing to help straight away and as it turned out their duty rider lived only a few miles from the hospital. RV points were discussed and agreed on the M3 Jct 4 Sainsburys, Camberley.
The run was on and here are some details for info:
Devon F/Wheelers Not including miles to Plymouth
Plymouth to Dorchester 96 miles x 2 = 192
SERV Wessex Fareham to Dorchester 86 +
Dorchester to Camberley 96 + home 46 = 238
Harefield Hospital Camberley 29 x 2 = 58
Total miles 488 miles(at least)
And we will never know if there was a match to give someone a fighting chance.
Isn’t it nice to see SERV & Freewheelers pulling together like this? Team work.
By the way the Devon rider thanked me and was well pleased we were able to help as he was ear marked to do the whole run.
Later I was on my way to Warminster via Winchester. While I was out and about the other 2 duty riders were not left in peace. One job had to be declined as it was an emergency with a very tight time limit.
Now The Royal British Legion motto springs to mind. ‘Service Not Self’ and every time you put yourself up for duty you are following that motto and demonstrate it every time a job is complete no matter how important, how far or how long it took. You put yourself out.
John - Hampshire
Everyone that volunteers for us does an excellent job giving up their time to support the local Hospitals, we did 54 runs last month and that was without any milk runs.
We are being used more and if the riders are lucky they will get one job to do and maybe two if we don’t have the numbers on shift.
But just spare a thought for the Controller, yes this is the job that very few people want to assist with & I find the hardest to fill on the rota, but equally as important. To give you some insight into what a controller goes through when they are on duty here are the timings over a recent day & night Saturday shift.
07.45 Log on to Flextel & receive calls from duty riders.
07.50 Called 1 rider that hadn’t called, left message. No contact.
08.20 Call from Devon Freewheelers, urgent tissue sample from Plymouth to London, can we assist?
08.24 Call Tim to confirm job ok to do.
08.28 Call SERV Surrey, Harefield Hospital not in their area.
08.35 Call Herts & Bucks, again told Hospital not in their area would do it as their duty rider lives only 5 mins from the hospital. Agreed to a handover Jct 4 M3.
08.40 Call Devon Freewheelers, job on.
08.45 Rider informed of all the details.
09.30 Rider on his way.
11.00 Rider arrived @ Dorchester, bloke from Devon F/wheelers was well pleased he didn't have to take it all the way.
13.00 Rider arrives @ RVP and hands over to Herts & Beds rider.
13.20 Call from Basingstoke, urgent sample to go to Salisbury.
13.25 2ndrider called.
14.10 1strider arrives home.
14.40 Rider calls, arrived @ Basingstoke.
15.50 Rider calls arrives @ Salisbury.
16.55 Rider calls, home safely
18.40 Call from Winchester, sample to Filton.
18.42 Call Avon Freewheelers to arrange handover.
18.45 Call Winchester, job on & rider dispatched.
19.20 Rider calls, arrived @ Winchester.
20.00 Call from Salisbury, need blood within 1hr, it wasn't possible to deliver within the time scale (Emergency) so had to decline.
20.35 Rider calls, arrived @ Warminster.
21.20 Call from Winchester, blood required, not ready until 23.00.
21.30 Rider called & details passed.
21.55 Rider arrives home after Warminster job
22.50 Winchester rider arrives @ Blood Bank.
23.15 Rider calls, arrived @ Winchester.
23.30 Rider calls, arrived home.
This made 4 important runs possible...
Controllers do not just “answer the phone”, they are the face of SERV WESSEX, they are the interface between the Hospital and the rider, they need to organise the handovers with other groups, know where the riders are, and are a valuable asset of ours and must be thanked for their commitment. (As you all are).
So next time you are getting back into bed after being out for 3hrs, bear a thought for the controller, they may not be able to get back into bed, they may be waiting for the next rider to call them to let them know they are safe.
OK I hear you say, they don’t go out in the rain & cold, no they don’t, but you could always try controlling!
"Sterling effort by all three riders - Mathew got home from a 146-mile run at midnight, Paul got back from his second run at 2.20am and Dave did a marathon stint that saw him out until 5am and must have been over 200 miles, I should think.
All three deserve a massive pat on the back.
When Avon Freewheelers turned down my second request for a rendezvous and I switched to Severn Freewheelers, I made an on-the-spot decision that as there was no specified route from QA to the M4 RVP that the best bet was to keep it simple and send Dave via the M27, M3, A34, M4. Hope that was OK. Given where he lived we agreed a route home via Marlborough, Salisbury, Ringwood, Bournemouth, Poole.
A very busy night but the riders did us credit!
"Just finished my second shift as a controller and my first daytime shift. I was surprised by the demand for our services. With the help of two of our duty drivers, we made three runs in total. The van made one trip to QA in Portsmouth with urgent blood and platelets on board. Whilst he was on route, I received a phone call from the hospital asking for 3 further boxes to be collected from the Blood Bank.
I must say as a controller today I felt quite touched when the hospital informed the driver that the 25 units of blood we took on the first delivery was needed to save someones life while they were on the operating table. It just goes to show that the effort of waking up at 7am (on a Sunday which is not natural - I'm a student!) has saved someones life. Something of which we should all be proud."
Ben from Winchester, Hampshire.