Coffee Memorial joins nation’s first emergency blood reserve

Local News

Coffee Memorial Blood Center

AMARILLO, TEXAS, Sept. 14, 2021 – Coffee Memorial Blood Center (CMBC) said, a division of the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI), has helped found a partnership to prepare its blood center 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 said CMBC.

In addition to Coffee Memorial and the centers that make up OBI, the initial blood center partners are California’s Houchin Community Blood Bank, The Community Blood Center in Wisconsin, Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank and Texas’ We Are Blood, South Texas Blood & Tissue Center and Carter BloodCare.

“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 Coffee Memorial 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 our area and our partner states a ready-to-go supply of blood to fill the holes appearing in our disaster response fabric.”

CMBC said that nationally the blood supply has faced a shortage due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This plan to deal with the increased need for blood following a mass casualty event will help save lives,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. “Preparation and response are key components to mitigating loss following any type of disaster. BERC gives us a valuable tool that will benefit patients in crisis.”

CMBC and other centers within OBI will be collecting extra blood products as part of its on-call schedule. If no emergency situation arises, the blood will be returned to OBI’s general inventory, to be used for local blood needs. Participating centers will rotate inventory coverage, starting on a 3-week cycle said CMBC.

To donate blood, donors can make an appointment at yourbloodinstitute.org or by calling 806-331-8833.

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