On yet another rainy March morning, a group of motorcyclists rolled up outside the former Department of Education building on the corner of Bridge and Young streets, Sydney, to take a historic photograph.
It was outside this very building that a team of volunteer bikers known as SOS Motorcycles was photographed more than a century ago. During the 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic, these bikers delivered clothing, food and other necessities to people in need in the poorer parts of the city. They also ferried doctors and nurses to visit the ill who were isolating at home.
Their modern day equivalent – Bloodbikes Australia – formed in 2019, not initially to fight our current pandemic, but to deliver blood, biopsies, clinical trial program tests and more for healthcare providers. Of course, COVID-19 arrived soon after, and Bloodbikes Australia riders have been volunteering to courier COVID-19 tests from collection centres to laboratories across the country ever since.
A small group of members participated in this photographic recreation, including founder Peter Davis (who rode down from Queensland for the event) and Sydney co-ordinator, Richard Alder.
Bloodbikes Australia is an independent, not-for-profit outfit that provides these services at no charge to help free up more money for the delivery of healthcare. Since its inception in September 2019, Bloodbikes Australia volunteers have made more than 2200 pick-ups and deliveries, for more than 40 healthcare providers across the country.
Today the group boasts more than 400 volunteers across all states and territories. Riders volunteer our time, motorcycles, fuel, and road toll costs to do some good while out riding their motorcycles.
Bloodbikes Australia was inspired by the well-established Bloodbikes movement in the UK and Ireland, but Davis says that the way Bloodbikes Australia works is unique in the world.
Peter Davis – Bloodbikes Australia Founder
“It is the first volunteer franchise where all volunteers agree to the same terms, all volunteers are totally equal, and there is no money involved at all. There is no fundraising, as every volunteer pays their own expenses. And the real-time cloud-based availability record that enables healthcare providers to see which volunteers are available at that moment is also unique.”
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If you think Bloodbikes Australia might be for you, you’ll need to have more than three years’ riding experience, plus a reliable bike with full rego and comprehensive motorcycle insurance and a good-sized bucket or pannier on the back. You’ll also need to complete an online course in blood transportation. In addition, each new rider is asked to join an experienced volunteer on an induction run.
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