Community blood centers across the United States align to provide mutual support in times of crisis
Blood centers across the United States, including South Texas Blood & Tissue, are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the nation’s first emergency blood reserve program.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps was founded in 2021 by a group of blood centers to keep the blood supply stocked during emergencies when needs are high, including mass-casualty events or natural disasters.
Prior to the founding of the Corps, many local centers faced blood shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. By creating the partnership, the centers helped ensure blood will always be ready and available if needed nationwide.
“I’m extremely grateful to my fellow community blood centers that make up the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps who provided blood in response to the shooting in Uvalde in addition to us sending blood,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Chief Operating Officer, South Texas Blood & Tissue. “In disastrous situations it is important for our communities to join forces. Times like this remind us of why we continuously urge our community to donate blood.”
Originally made up of seven partner blood centers, in the last year the Corps has grown to 33 blood centers in 41 states, all committed to reserving additional units of blood on a rotating “on-call” schedule. During a 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.
“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, Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance for Community Transfusion Services and Administrator of the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps. “The Corps 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.”
During the last 12 months, 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 members around the country helped supplement the local blood supply in the affected region.
“Timing of blood availability is of highest importance when tragic events occur such as the shooting in Uvalde,” said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, Associate Medical Director, South Texas Blood & Tissue. “We are grateful for all those who stepped up to donate in the days and weeks prior to needs of this magnitude unfold.”