Coronavirus in East Devon: Devon Freewheelers at the frontline of Covid-19 response

Dan Lavery of the Devon Freewheelers. Ref exe 1260-13-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Dan Lavery of the Devon Freewheelers. Ref exe 1260-13-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Delivering Covid-19 samples for testing, taking medication to patients in their homes and providing urgent support to hospitals are all part of the Devon Freewheelers’ work during the coronavirus crisis.

The volunteer bikers say they have seen an ‘unprecedented’ demand for their services in the last few weeks.

Their emergency medical service (EMS) is at the frontline of the NHS response to Covid-19 in East Devon and across the county as a whole.

Earlier this month the EMS administered the swabs at Ottery St Mary’s drive-through coronavirus testing centre, before the service was discontinued.

They are still part of the urgent community response team in the area, transporting nurses to the homes of patients who have been discharged from hospital to free up beds for coronavirus treatment.

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In Exmouth, the EMS has just set up a new drive-through assessment centre at the community hospital, enabling staff to see patients more quickly.

Meanwhile the ‘blood bikes’ part of the charity is now offering its services 24/7 instead of only out of hours.

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The bikers transport blood for transplants, blood samples for testing, medication, patient notes, medical equipment, tissue samples and donor breast milk to hospitals and other NHS establishments and patients throughout Devon.

During the Covid-19 outbreak there has been high demand for the delivery of medication to people self-isolating in their homes, and those at high risk of the virus who cannot go to collect prescriptions.

The bikers have delivered around 100 prescriptions in the Honiton area alone, in just over a week.

In response to the coronavirus, Devon Freewheelers closed their headquarters in Honiton last week, although volunteers and staff members can still use it to collect their vehicles, take infection prevention and control measures and use cleaning equipment.

A spokesman for the charity said the volunteers have ‘absolutely stepped up to the plate in assisting our NHS with this terrible crisis’.

He said: “The people of Devon don’t realise just how much our teams are doing right now, it truly is astonishing. I cannot express enough thanks to every member of the team.”

The Devon Freewheelers are appealing for donations to help them continue their vital work at a time of such high demand.

To donate, visit their website or visit their Facebook page.

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