Brendan Farrell from Greystones is one of hundreds of bikers from all over Ireland who have mobilised to deliver personal protective equipment to front-line workers.
'Bravo Charlie Tango - Bikers Coming Through' is an offshoot of the Open Source Ventilators Project. OSV was part founded by Bray man Colin Keogh and they are attempting to develop low cost 3D printed ventilators to cope with the Covid-19 criss globally.
'There are about 450 of us bikers nationwide,' said Brendan. He said that they already had something of a network established via the 'Irish Photo Rally' Facebook page. 'You go off somewhere nice on the bike, like the Cliffs of Moher, and submit a photo to the group,' he said. That activity is of course out of the question at the moment, along with the day jobs of many of the bikers in the group.
'Most of us have never met each other,' said Brendan. Offaly man Merv Colton founded BCT. 'He realised we could get the lads to pick up and deliver donated items all over the country.'
Brendan said that he has been 3D printing face shield frames and using acetate for the visor. 'What we are trying to do is protect the PPE - mask and goggles - of the people using them,' he said.
'That led me into the OSV project, and Merv was involved,' he said. 'Someone said that the visors could go to St Luke's. They asked if I needed a biker, and I said no as I'm a biker myself so I could pop in. I got a message saying hey Bren, are you any good with spreadsheets? I stupidly said yes!'
He coordinates the east Coast, Cal McCarthy is in Limerick, with Merv in Offaly his sister Lynda in Milan coordinating from home and liaising with bikers, donors and recipients. 'We come wrapped in our own PPE,' said Brendan. 'We're well protected with helmets, gloves and the rest of our gear.' He said that the task of helping gives people the opportunity to make a contribution, and a bit of focus during uncertain times.
Brendan is doing deliveries as well as coordinating the drivers. Those hoping to make a donation can send an email to the group. 'If you had some face masks in the back of the press, unopened packs of gloves, or a larger operation, get in touch,' said Brendan.
The group then matches that to an appropriate recipient. Enniskerry-based East Coast Mask Makers has availed of their services to deliver hand-sewn face masks to front-line workers. 'Lots of different places have contacted us,' said Brendan. 'HSE places can be restricted with what they can accept. The likes of nursing homes seem to be far down the pecking order and have very little.
'We qualify the requests and check that a place still needs the items before we deliver them, and that if we bring something it is use-able.'
Brendan will put a call-out for a driver on the Wicklow Whatsapp group for say, a delivery from Bray to Wicklow Town. 'Whoever is available will say yes and then we select someone and take it off to a private chat.' The person donating is asked to put the items into a bag and write on it the name of the recipient. 'If you have a small package the arrangement could be that you pop it into the box and the driver doesn't need to touch it. Or the arrangement could be that it's left outside for collection,' said Brendan. 'People somehow usually know when we arrive!'
Brendan said that Cool Planet Experience at Powerscourt contacted Bravo Charlie Tango last week. 'They found a storeroom full of masks and gowns and donated it,' said Brendan.
The group is also in a position to move materials around to help those who are perhaps short of acetate for face shields, or materials for the development of ventilators. 'A run we're doing at the moment is the provision of some 3D visors going to the HSE for materials testing,' said Brendan. He said they are also delivering baby monitors to hospitals and hospices for ease of communication with patients who are isolating. To get in touch, send an email to email@example.com.