Community blood centers across the U.S. align to provide mutual support in times of crisis
(Sept. 12, 2022) Blood centers across the U.S. 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Originally made up of seven partner blood centers, in the last year BERC has grown to 33 blood centers in 41 states that have committed to reserving additional units of blood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.
“Our members are committed to helping save lives within their own communities, but we know emergencies can arise at any time and outstrip the local blood supply,” said Nelson Hellwig, CEO of the Alliance for Community Transfusion Services and Administrator of the BERC Program. “BERC provides an emergency reserve of blood units, available to be shipped at a moment’s notice. This allows our members to respond to the needs of their communities and provides essential support whenever a crisis might occur.”
BERC activations are an essential element of crisis response
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, see www.bloodemergencyreadinesscorps.org.