The days preceding my route training had been the best weather so far this year, sunny skies and temperatures of 24°C were the order of the day, I was looking forward to a great day out with blue skies and pleasant temperatures and a nice excuse to ride my bike all day.
The day dawned...
Well Saturday 31st March dawned cloudy and a chilly 7°C and threatening to rain, how disappointed was I ? Still I had my route training to concentrate on and the weather was incidental so suitably dressed I set off .
I was due to meet up with the route trainer outside a coffee shop in Brentwood high street, I arrived with plenty of time to spare and met up with a couple of the other trainees , then a few more turned up and finally there was seven of us eagerly waiting.
We were all from different backgrounds and rode different bikes from brand new BMWs to Honda Hornet there was even a ZZR1400 and an ex Police Pan European.
The trainers arrived on the stroke of 10am and due to the number of trainees there were three of them, we were divided into 3 groups and each allocated a trainer, there then followed a briefing covering how we would ride , the route we would follow and various safety aspects. During the day we would be observed on our riding to ensure we didn’t have any bad habits. The only thing I was a little apprehensive about was the fact we would be riding in a group as it wasn’t something I’d done an awful lot of.
Then it was time to get on with the business of the day , I followed the trainer of our group Stephen to the first stop at National Blood Transfusion Service just a few minutes down the road. Once we arrived we were shown where to park as well as the procedure to follow when collecting / delivering we also had the chance to ask questions and make sure we were happy with what was expected of us. Once we had finished with our visit we mounted up again and headed off to Basildon Hospital the first of 3 hospitals we were due to visit during the day.
The first of many
The plan for the day was that we took it in turns to lead our individual group and this leg was led by my fellow trainee as I wasn’t familiar with the area. After we left NBTS we made our way through the heavy Saturday morning traffic, despite getting a little separated in the town we soon caught up with each other outside the town and had an uneventful ride to the hospital. Once we reached the access road to the hospital our trainer took over the lead to guide us through the maze of internal roads that led to our drop off point. From there we again were shown where to go and what to do. By this time the other 2 groups had caught up with us and we left in a single group for our lunch stop at a local garden centre.
Off to the seaside
We had a very enjoyable lunch and even made a possible new recruit as a member of the public approached one of the trainers having seen the ‘Emergency Blood’ jackets. Lunch was over and it was time to visit the next hospital on the list which was Southend University Hospital. It was my turn to lead , and all 3 groups were combined for the run into Southend-On-Sea. I have to admit to feeling the pressure of leading the whole group , a wrong turn was out of the question …. So no pressure then !!
We arrived at the hospital a little damp as it had started to drizzle but I hadn’t managed to get us lost. After parking up we followed the now familiar routine and were soon able to tick off another hospital.
The final hospital was the Princess Alexandra at Harlow a trip along the A127 then M25 and M11. We soon dispatched the motorways and entered Harlow to be greeted by the early afternoon shopping traffic a bit of judicious filtering soon had us parked at the hospital and being briefed on the procedures to be used.
As this was the third and final hospital we’d reached the end of our route training , we’d covered about about 80 miles , visited 3 hospitals and been assessed on our riding. We were rewarded for our efforts by receiving our Essex Blood Runner ID cards ... I was finally a Blood Runner for Essex Blood Runners.
The next step is to be put on the Rota of riders ready to be called out. But that will be the subject of my next blog.
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