Memphis shootings activate US emergency blood reserve


Blood Emergency Readiness Corps responds to call just two weeks after launch

OKLAHOMA CITY, Sept. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ –The mass shootings at a grocery store in Memphis, TN produced an urgent need for extra pints of blood to care for the 12 surviving victims who were rushed to hospitals after the assault. Answering a call from Vitalant, a blood supplier serving the local area, the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC) raced to ship boxes of red blood cells for trauma care.

This success marked the first time that the new BERC network has responded to a major blood emergency.

According to Nelson Hellwig, CEO of the Alliance for Community Transfusion Services (ACTS) which coordinates BERC logistics and administration, the importance of and need for the blood reserve is evident by its activation only two weeks from its launch announcement on September 9th. “The long-term drop off in US blood collections has put practically every community at risk for running dry in the face of mass casualties,” Hellwig said. “Our transfusion safety net is already saving lives and certainly will be doing so again many, many more times.”

Hellwig adds, “This early demonstration of BERC’s value can only help strengthen it. I am confident we are going to see many more blood centers signing up to support BERC by committing stand-by units as part of the weekly rotation of shared responsibility. Vitalant will hopefully be an easy recruit because they have already experienced the benefits of this vital collaboration.”

This event will also motivate blood donors, says John Armitage, MD, CEO of the Oklahoma Blood Institute. “People who give blood are healers who want to see the maximum benefits come from their giving acts,” Armitage said. “BERC essentially supersizes their generosity beyond the patient impacts by helping to reduce injury consequences on the community and to boost positive results from the heroic efforts of first responders and medical teams.”

The original seven BERC blood centers are Carter BloodCare (Dallas), Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank (Harrisburg), The Community Blood Center (Appleton, WI), Houchin Community Blood Bank (Bakersfield, CA), Oklahoma Blood Institute (Oklahoma City), South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (San Antonio), and We Are Blood (Austin).

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

Carter BloodCare is an independent, community blood center providing transfusion resources to more than 180 medical facilities in 50-plus counties of North, Central and East Texas. The non-profit 501(c)(3) organization is one of the largest blood programs in Texas, delivering more than 450,000 blood products annually to meet hospitals’ requirements for their patients. Services include collection, processing, specialized laboratory testing, storage and distribution of blood and blood products. 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

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 Northeast Wisconsin, the Northwoods and upper Michigan. CBC has donor centers in Appleton, Oshkosh, Little Chute and Woodruff, plus hosts over 100 blood drives every month. For more information, please 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) is a nonprofit organization, formed in 2010, with the purpose of creating a new model for community blood banking. ACTS is committed to delivering innovative blood services solutions to hospitals and their patients through unique collaboration of nonprofit, independent blood centers. For more information, visit