GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) — The Blood Connection among other blood centers across the nation are joining forces to keep blood supply steady during national emergencies.
In recent months, blood centers across the nation faced an increasingly unsteady blood supply, which is why they created a first-in-the-nation partnership called the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC).
The BERC is comprised of several blood centers nationwide. They plan to collect extra blood units on a rotating, “on call” schedule to be used for any critical-need scenario, such as a mass shooting or natural disaster.
Before the BERC was formed, states that had extra blood on hand sent units during an emergency, but there was nothing that a blood center could count on other than goodwill.
With BERC, partner blood centers will know exactly how much emergency blood is available and where it will come from.
The Blood Connection is also a partner in the BERC, which ensure people in the Carolinas and Georgia have a blood reserve in case of an emergency.
Officials say this is much needed after the nation’s blood centers have faced widespread blood shortages in recent months, which created a severely strained national safety net for mass traumas and other disasters.
“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.” Delisa English, CEO of The Blood Connection, said.
As the sole blood supplier for every Upstate hospital, including Prisma Health, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, AnMed, and Spartanburg Regional, The Blood Connection is participating in the BERC to be proactive in its emergency planning, rather than rely on an increasingly unstable supply plan when hospital patients are in need.
“A normal traffic accident could impact how much blood supply they have on the shelves. When you think about that in terms of a natural disaster, large accident or mass shooting that can make it even worse,” Katie Smithson, spokesperson at The Blood Connection, said.
Whether there is an emergency or not, blood donors are continuously responsible for keeping the blood supply stable for local hospitals.
“History tells us what our inventory should be on a daily basis to help take care of our cancer patients and any events that happen in a typical hospital – but history does not tell us what those emergency situations will be.” Penny Tisdale, Administrative Director of Laboratory Services at AnMed Health, said.
The BERC was activated earlier this week in response to Monday’s 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 for the remaining victims.
The response marks the second time BERC has activated since its launch in September. The program, which comprises 21 blood centers serving more than 30 states, is the nation’s only safety net for emergency situations requiring immediate transfusion care.
If you would like to donate blood, donors can make an appointment by going to thebloodconnection.org/donate or by calling 864-255-5000.