LifeSouth Community Blood Centers teamed up with other nationwide blood suppliers to found a network that meets blood needs during emergency situations like hurricanes, mass shootings or other traumatic events.
The participants in the newly formed Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC) already assisted in the Midwest when tornadoes hit in December, supplying pints of blood to Blood Assurance in Chattanooga.
“COVID exposed the reality that our national blood supply is unstable when there is catastrophic need,” Kimberly Kinsell, CEO of LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, said in a press release. “In the face of disaster, BERC will provide a safety net securing the blood necessary for immediate transfusion need. BERC provides Florida and our partner states a ready-to-go supply of blood allowing us to be proactive in our disaster response efforts.”
BERC operates on a three week rotation with different blood suppliers on-call. When a disaster hits, those organizations on-call send relief, eliminating uncertainty about where and when assistance will come.
In the release, Kinsell said the response to high casualty events up to now has consisted of a “patchwork pleas” for assistance with responses sounding off here or there. The new BERC system provides reliable responses and aid.
So far, BERC has had three activations―one in September and two in December. At each activation, three or four on-call centers chipped in to support local blood needs.
Blood donations across the U.S. have slowed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. LifeSouth started a holiday gift card campaign in December to encourage donations.
LifeSouth also opened a new donation center in September off of Newberry Road in Jonesville.