MANATEE COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) — The SunCoast Blood Centers was tapped to be Florida’s partner in a new initiative aiming to create an available supply of blood for critical need scenarios like mass shootings or natural disasters.
The initiative, named the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC), consists of a group of 16 local blood centers from 29 states that have committed to collecting extra blood units.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought blood collectors a “disturbing uncertainty and scarcity” in the blood supply according to Scott Bush, CEO of the SunCoast Blood Centers.
“In many disasters and critical-need scenarios – like a mass shooting, natural disaster or large-scale car crash – much blood is needed immediately,” BERC’s website says. “In mass transfusion disasters, tomorrow is too late to respond.
As it stands, most blood centers are forced to request blood units from neighboring collectors to meet the demands of large disasters.”
“This is one of the reasons why we are a member of this and this is one of the reasons why it is unique and why this has been formed,” Chief Operating Officer of Suncoast Blood Centers John Hall said.
The SunCoast Blood Centers will be collecting extra blood products as part of its on-call schedule. If no emergency arrises, the blood products will be returned to Suncoast Blood Center’s geneal inventory to be used for local needs.
During a press conference, Hall used the Astroworld concert in Houston, Texas as a real-world example of demand.
“In Houston, they were asking for 50 units of blood. They called 15 to 20 blood centers,” hall said. “How many did they get? 37. That is all they got. Here, we can send hundreds of units to the people that need them.”
Sarasota Police Chief Rex Troche said, “giving blood saves lives and that is what we are about.”
Those interested in scheduling a donation can do so by calling 1-866-97-BLOOD or online by visiting suncoastblood.org