The Blood Connection joins nation’s first emergency blood reserve
Extra blood products to be set aside for critical-need scenarios
THE CAROLINAS AND GEORGIA – (December 2, 2021) Facing an increasingly unsteady blood supply, The Blood Connection has helped establish a first-in-the-nation partnership to prepare The Carolinas and Georgia for emergency situations where blood needs are high.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC) is composed of blood centers from across the nation that have committed to collecting extra blood units on a rotating, “on call” schedule. The extra blood products will be held in reserve for any critical-need scenario, like a mass shooting or natural disaster.
The BERC was activated on Nov. 30, in response to a school shooting in Oxford Township, Michigan. Three “on call” blood centers sent extra blood units to Versiti – the blood center that serves the area – to meet the immediate medical needs of the eight remaining victims.
“Situations like these are exactly why BERC was formed,” said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute. “When the blood needs are great and immediate after tragic events like this, we can act swiftly and decisively to ensure patients have access to the blood products they need.”
The Blood Connection will host three press conferences across its regions to discuss its participation in the BERC:
- December 6 at 10 a.m. – Fluor Field (945 S. Main Street Greenville, SC)
- December 14 at 10 a.m. – UNC Rex Heart & Vascular Hospital (4420 Lake Boone Trail Raleigh, NC)
- December 14 at 11 a.m. – North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center (5001 Coliseum Drive North Charleston, SC)
“The ugly reality that COVID brought to blood collectors is a disturbing uncertainty and scarcity in the blood supply,” said Delisa English, CEO of The Blood Connection. “When disaster strikes, BERC will give us more confidence that the immediate transfusion needs can be met. Unfortunately, we must adapt, because we are not seeing donor awareness or response following recent high-injury events like the summer shootings in Austin, Texas (14 victims) and Queens, New York (10 victims). BERC provides the areas we serve, and our partner states, a ready-to-go supply of blood to fill the holes appearing in our disaster response fabric.”
The nation’s blood centers have faced widespread blood shortages in recent months, creating a severely strained national safety net for mass traumas and other high casualty disasters. As the blood provider for more than 80 hospitals across the Carolinas and Georgia, The Blood Connection is participating in the BERC to be proactive in its emergency planning, rather than rely on an increasingly unstable back-up supply plan when hospital patients are in need. Whether there is an emergency or not, blood donors are continuously needed for keeping the blood supply stable for local hospitals.
When faced with a mass-need event, blood centers across the country have relied on patchwork pleas for additional blood resources. States that had extra blood on hand might send units, but there was nothing that a blood center could count on other than undefined goodwill. With BERC, partner blood centers will know exactly how much emergency blood is available and where it will come from.
The Blood Connection will be collecting extra blood products as part of its on-call schedule. Participating centers will rotate inventory coverage, starting on a 3-week cycle. Drive coordinators and donors will be asked to step up to a higher calling of guardianship to cover possible coast to coast needs. Local hospital needs will always be prioritized. If no emergency arises, the blood products will be returned to The Blood Connection’s general inventory.
To find opportunities to donate blood, donors can make an appointment by going to thebloodconnection.org/donate or by calling 864-255-5000.