Over 30 independent blood centers in U.S. collaborate to provide blood for mass transfusion events
MARCH 22, 2022 — Community Blood Center of the Ozarks (CBCO), the sole supplier of blood products to 44 area healthcare facilities, has joined a first-in-the-nation partnership with other community-based blood centers across the nation. Called the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC), the partnership will create an added level of protection for the blood needs of the region as well as provide the opportunity for CBCO blood donors to help in a time of crisis.
The purpose of BERC is to be prepared for mass transfusion disasters that may strike. Blood centers commit to store extra units on a rotating “on call” schedule to create an available supply of blood for emergency needs. When CBCO is on call, they will set aside around 15 units of O Negative and O Positive blood for possible deployment through BERC. If the units are not used, they will be put back into the regular inventory for local distribution.
In many disasters and critical-need scenarios – like a mass shooting, tornado or large-scale car crash – a great deal of blood may be needed immediately. With current donation rates nationally, most blood centers don’t have enough blood on their shelves to handle these types of disasters and are forced to request blood units from neighboring blood collectors. By creating BERC, blood will be ready and available if needed, without delays and uncertainty.
Before BERC, blood centers facing a mass need event have relied on other blood centers to send additional units from their available inventory – but only if excess was available to share. Now, participating BERC members will rotate and store blood on a three-week rotating schedule. If needed, that blood will be offered to other parts of the country in response to a mass transfusion event.
“We are proud to join other independent blood centers across the country on the BERC team,” Anthony Roberts, CBCO Executive Director said. “Our mission as the region’s exclusive blood supplier does not change. What will change is our ability to better handle events in our area that require many transfusions within a short period of time. Our collaboration with BERC helps to provide that assurance.”
Since its formation in September of 2021, BERC has already responded to three mass casualty events in Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan.
“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 Senior Director of Donor Recruitment and Marketing Kenda Burnham 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.”
Find a blood drive near you and make an appointment to give at www.cbco.org/donate-blood. On behalf of local hospital patients, CBCO thanks blood donors from across the region for giving life to your community.
Lauren Bailey, M.D. (Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas)
Anne Hayes, M.D. (CoxHealth)
Michael Black (Freeman Health System)
Anthony Roberts (CBCO)
To see a full list of participating blood centers and learn more about recent BERC activations, visit the www.bloodemergencyreadinesscorps.org.