ImpactLife in the greater Quad Cities area is joining a first-in-the-nation partnership of community blood centers to help prepare the ImpactLife service region for emergencies that may lead to high demand for blood transfusions.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps, or BERC, will also enable blood donors in our region to better support emergency needs that arise across the United States.
BERC is comprised of 30 blood centers from across the nation that have committed to reserving extra units of blood on a rotating, “on call” schedule. The additional blood products will be held in reserve for any critical-need scenario, such as a mass casualty or natural disaster event.
“In the COVID-19 pandemic, blood centers have seen greater uncertainty and scarcity in the blood supply,” said Mike Rasso, director of sales and inventory with ImpactLife. “While we have worked to avoid blood shortages in our region, we know the demand for blood can spike at any time. Joining BERC gives us confidence that sources are readily available for specific situations as defined by the BERC program.”
Before BERC, blood centers facing a mass need event have relied on other blood centers to send additional units from their available inventory – but only if excess was available to share. This meant in an emergency blood providers could only rely on the goodwill of fellow blood centers and the hope that blood inventories would be sufficient to meet emerging needs.
With BERC, partner blood centers will know exactly how much emergency blood is available and where it will come from. Participating centers will rotate inventory coverage on a 3-week cycle, with multiple providers “on call” to provide emergency units when needed.
The BERC was founded in 2021 to help blood providers meet immediate transfusion needs when faced with a large-scale emergency. Through BERC, participating blood centers from across the U.S. have joined forces to prepare for mass transfusion disasters, ensuring their ability to meet emerging needs without delay or uncertainty.
“Previously, when there were emergencies, blood centers would reach out to others, and adequate supplies may not always be available,” Rasso said Monday in a press conference.
“This program is available on a rotational basis for the 30 participating centers,” he said. “It builds that supply that previously wasn’t there. We relied on the goodwill of other centers to give up units in an emergent need, and unfortunately, those aren’t always there. We see seasonal shortages, holidays, summer and so on.”
“This assures that supply of inventory is available for emergent need,” Rasso said, noting a recent example was the Dec. 10-11 tornadoes in western Kentucky, which killed 77 people. ImpactLife’s first week of being on call will be Jan. 24.
“It’s our job to prepare for the worst,” said Tony Knobbe, member of the Scott County Board of Supervisors, and commissioner of the Scott County Emergency Management Agency. “We know who to call; we know what they can bring to bear, and we’re prepared for those emergencies when they happen.”
How to Help: ImpactLife seeks “Partners for Life”
“Having a consistently strong and stable calendar of blood donations and blood drives is the best way to ensure ImpactLife can meet the BERC on-call schedule requirements,” said Amanda Hess, vice president of donor relations and marketing for ImpactLife.
“Joining BERC is a proactive step to help us plan for emergency needs. But as our region’s primary blood supplier, we retain our commitment to the ongoing needs of local hospitals first,” said Hess. “We are seeking additional community partners who will increase their support in light of needs that may emerge within the BERC network.”’
The BERC “ensures an immediate supply of blood is available when disasters are met and mass casualty events occur – which seem to be happening quite a bit these days,” she said Monday.
Dr. Michael Spears, a pathologist and lab director for UnityPoint Health — Trinity said: “We partner very closely with ImpactLife as our blood supplier, and on the front lines of health care, we rely extremely heavily on the blood products we receive day in and day out from ImpactLife.”
“In mass casualty events, blood products are key to helping keep patients alive,” he said. “Blood centers are banding together to help reinforce one another during the challenges that we face.”
“Many other blood centers will be a great addition to helping keep the blood supply stable during these critical needs,” Spears said.
To schedule a donation or to learn about other ways to partner with ImpactLife, call 800-747-5401 or visit www.bloodcenter.org/partner. To see a list of participating blood centers and to learn about recent BERC activations, visit www.bloodemergencyreadinesscorps.org.
ImpactLife is a not-for-profit community organization providing blood services to 126 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country.
Services extend from southcentral Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri and from Danville, Illinois to Chariton, Iowa. ImpactLife operates 20 Donor Centers and holds approximately 5,000 mobile blood drives annually to provide blood components needed for patient transfusions at hospitals throughout the region.