Facing an increasingly unsteady blood supply, Houchin Community Blood Bank (HCBB) has helped found a first–in–the–nation partnership to prepare for emergency situations where blood needs are high.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC), is comprised of seven blood centers from five states that have committed to collecting extra blood units on a rotating, “on call” schedule. The extra blood products will be held in reserve for any critical–need scenario, like a mass shooting or natural disaster.
In addition to HCBB, the initial blood center partners are Oklahoma Blood Institute, The Community Blood Center in Wisconsin, Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank and Texas’ We Are Blood, South Texas Blood & Tissue Center and Carter BloodCare. The network is expected to expand rapidly.
“The ugly reality that COVID brought to blood collectors is a disturbing uncertainty and scarcity in the blood supply,” said Sean McNally, CEO & President of HCBB. “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 California and our partner states a ready–to–go supply of blood to fill the holes appearing in our disaster response fabric.”
The nation’s blood centers have faced widespread blood shortages in recent months, creating a severely strained national safety net for mass traumas and other high casualty disasters. As Kern County’s primary blood supplier, HCBB helped found BERC to be proactive in its emergency planning, rather than rely on an increasingly unstable back–up supply plan.
“When faced with a mass–need event,” Sean said, “blood centers across the country have relied on patchwork pleas for additional blood resources. States that had extra blood on hand might send units, but there was nothing that a blood center could count on other than undefined goodwill. With BERC, partner blood centers will know exactly how much emergency blood is available and where it will come from.”
HCBB will be collecting extra blood products as part of its on–call schedule. Drive coordinators and donors will be asked to step up to a higher calling of guardianship to cover possible coast to coast needs. If no emergency situation arises, the blood products will be returned to HCBB’s general inventory, to be used for local blood needs. Participating centers will rotate inventory coverage, starting on a 3 week cycle.
To donate blood, donors can make an appointment at https://hcbb.com/schedule or call us at 661–323–4222.
Blood donors must be in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be at least 17 years old or 16 years old with a parent or guardian consent. A photo ID with a date of birth is all that is needed to start saving lives. For more information about blood donation, please visit www.hcbb.com or call us at 661–323–4222. Appointments are highly recommended.