Blood centers launch nation’s first emergency blood reserve


Partnership of seven community blood centers launches today

OKLAHOMA CITYSept. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Facing an increasingly unsteady blood supply, a group of community blood centers have founded a first-in-the-nation partnership to prepare their areas for emergency situations where blood needs are high.

The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC) is composed 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.

The initial blood center partners are the Oklahoma Blood InstituteCalifornia’s Houchin Community Blood BankThe Community Blood Center in WisconsinCentral Pennsylvania Blood Bank and Texas’ We Are BloodSouth 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 Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute. “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 Oklahoma 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.

“When faced with a mass-need event, blood centers across the country have relied on patchwork pleas for additional blood resources,” said Nelson Hellwig, chief executive officer at the Alliance for Community Transfusion Services (ACTS). “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.”

BERC has partnered with ACTS to coordinate the activation of the emergency reserve when needed. Each blood center 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 the collecting center’s general inventory, to be used for local blood needs. Participating centers will rotate inventory coverage, starting on a 3 week cycle.

The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps was founded in 2021 to meet the immediate transfusion needs of partner centers when faced with a large-scale emergency situation that requires blood transfusions. To learn more and see a list of participating blood centers, visit

With origins in the 1950s, Carter BloodCare is a nonprofit community blood center serving 200 medical facilities with life-saving blood and blood components to support patients in North, Central, and East Texas. For more information, visit

The Community Blood Center was established in 1955 and continues today as an independent nonprofit providing a safe and reliable blood supply to hospitals in the Midwest. CBC has donor centers in Wisconsin (AppletonOshkoshLittle Chute and Woodruff) and is opening a donor center in Chicago, Ill. in 2022. CBC hosts more than 100 blood drives every month. The Community Blood Center is a member of America’s Blood Centers (ABC) and Blood Centers of America (BCA) which are networks of independent community-based, not-for-profit blood centers supporting the blood needs for approximately 60% of the United States.For more information, please visit

Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank is a not-for-profit, community based blood program, committed to providing a quality blood supply, responsive to community needs, in a cost effective manner. For more information, visit

Houchin Community Blood Bank and its donors save lives by providing blood supplies to the communities we serve. Since we opened our doors in 1951, our community has saved countless lives through blood donations. We will continue our commitment to service at a local level while leading our organization into a new era of innovation and expansion. For more information, visit

Oklahoma Blood Institute is the 6th-largest independent blood center in the nation, providing more than 90% of Oklahoma’s blood supply to over 160 hospitals and medical facilities. For more information, visit

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) is a nonprofit community blood center that provides blood, plasma, platelets and other blood components to more than 100 hospitals and healthcare providers throughout Texas and beyond. For more information, visit

We Are Blood has drawn Central Texans together since 1951 to provide and protect the community blood supply. By inspiring people to donate locally and to take pride in this precious shared resource, we’re making sure all Central Texans will continue to have access to life-saving blood when they need it. For more information, visit

The Alliance for Community Transfusion Services (ACTS), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a strategic and operational alliance of self-directed, independent blood centers that model the values of community blood banking and support one another through group initiatives, shared resources, and collective expertise. For more information, visit