Kristy Altman, Director of Communications
email@example.com | 865-805-2008
MEDIC Regional Blood Center joins nation’s first emergency blood reserve
January 10, 2022 – Facing an increasingly unsteady blood supply, MEDIC Regional Blood Center has helped found a first-in-the-nation partnership to prepare Tennessee for emergency situations where blood needs are high.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC), is composed of 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 Kristy Altman, Director of Communications of MEDIC Regional Blood Center. “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 Tennessee 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, MEDIC Regional Blood Center 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, Kristy Altman 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.
MEDIC Regional 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 MEDIC Regional Blood Center’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 by visiting www.medicblood.org or calling 865-521-2682. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are still welcome. Masks are recommended for nonvaccinated donors and are optional for staff and other donors.
For more information on MEDIC Regional Blood Center or to schedule your donation, please visit our website at www.medicblood.org or contact Director of Communications Kristy Altman at Kaltman@medicblood.org or by phone at 865-805-2008.
About MEDIC Regional Blood Center
MEDIC was established in 1958 by Carl Nelson, MD, under the sponsorship of the Knoxville Academy of Medicine. MEDIC is a nonprofit organization and offers a Blood Coverage Program covering members’ blood supplier processing fees at any hospital in the country. MEDIC is an accredited member of AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks) and America’s Blood Centers (ABC). MEDIC is a member of the Alliance for Community Transfusion Services (ACTS) and Blood Centers of America. The center adheres to all blood product safety regulations established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is licensed by the FDA and the State of Tennessee. MEDIC is an independent blood center and not affiliated with the American Red Cross. Today, MEDIC Regional Blood Center is the provider of blood and blood-related products for the 24 area hospitals in 22 counties in East Tennessee and Southeastern Kentucky.