Mississippi Blood Services joins nation’s first emergency blood reserve
Facing an increasingly unsteady blood supply, Mississippi Blood Services has joined the first-in-the-nation partnership to prepare Mississippi for emergency situations where blood needs are high.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC), is composed of several blood centers from across the nation 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.
“The ugly reality that COVID brought to blood collectors is a disturbing uncertainty and scarcity in the blood supply,” said David Allen, President and CEO of Mississippi Blood Services. “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 Mississippi 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 the state’s primary blood supplier, Mississippi Blood Services joined with 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,” Allen 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.”
“Disasters by their very nature are chaotic. No one can be truly prepared for this chaos, but being able to check things off the list is one positive step towards order and recovery,” Dr. Damon Darsey, Medical Director for the Mississippi Department of Safety and MBS Board Member, said. “Knowing blood is going to be available is one major hurdle to check off the list. First responders are all too aware of just how vital blood can be in the time of crisis.”
Mississippi Blood Services 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 Mississippi Blood Services’ 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 by calling (601) 368-2673, or visit our website at www.msblood.com.