Blood centers across the U.S., including Community Blood Center of the Ozarks (CBCO), the sole provider of blood, platelets, and plasma to over 40 area hospitals, are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the nation’s first emergency blood reserve. The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC) was founded in 2021 as a partnership by a group of blood centers who joined together to keep the blood supply stocked during emergencies when blood needs are high, such as during a mass-casualty event or natural disaster.
Prior to the founding of BERC, many local centers faced widespread blood shortages during COVID. By creating BERC, these blood centers helped ensure blood will always be ready and available if needed nationwide, without delays and uncertainty. Originally made up of seven partner blood centers, in the last year BERC has grown to 33 blood centers in 41 states that have committed to reserving additional units of blood on a rotating, “on call” schedule. During a blood center’s on-call weeks, the additional blood units are held in reserve, ready to be shipped in response if a critical-need scenario should arise within the BERC network.
Community Blood Center of the Ozarks became a member of BERC on March 15, 2022. As part of their on-call week and a member of the BERC Network, on May 26, 2022, Community Blood Center of the Ozarks was one of the blood centers to send blood to help a partner blood center, South Texas Blood and Tissue, meet the needs of trauma patients as a result of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The activation to send blood to Uvalde marks the fourth time since its inception in September 2021 that the BERC Network has been called upon to provide blood during a national emergency.
“CBCO has a mission to provide blood locally, but I know that in times of national crisis our donors are eager to help those in need wherever they may be,” CBCO Media Relations Representative, Michelle Teter, said. “Our involvement in BERC creates that opportunity. If local donors want to help, they can simply continue to give blood on a regular basis. Ask others to do the same. That way we will be ready if or when tragedy strikes.”
Over the last 12 months, BERC activations have been called in response to shootings with multiple victims in Memphis, Tennessee (Sept. 27, 2021); Oxford, Michigan (Dec. 1, 2021); and Uvalde, Texas (May 26, 2022), and in response to widespread damage from tornadoes in Kentucky (Dec. 11, 2021). In each instance, blood units shipped by BERC members around the country helped supplement the local blood supply in the affected region. To learn more about BERC activations see www.bloodemergencyreadinesscorps.org/activations.
For additional information on the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps and its members, seewww.bloodemergencyreadinesscorps.org.