KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — When hospitals and first responders use up stored blood supplies during mass trauma events like the school shooting in Texas, there are now places they can turn for help — including right here in Knoxville.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps is a group of more than 30 blood centers located around the United States who are committed to preparing for mass disasters, such as the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The organization collects “extra” units for an emergency reserve blood supply that can be available immediately.
Participating blood centers collect this “extra” blood on a rotating schedule. Centers in active rotation when the event occurs send blood supplies to the center in need. MEDIC Regional Blood Center in Knoxville joined the program in January.
“This is the first proactive approach to making sure that the blood is there when there is a crisis,” said Kristy Altman, director of communications for MEDIC.
Altman said the corps was activated Wednesday morning to support the needs at South Texas Blood & Tissue following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“They are the blood center providing products for the local hospitals after yesterday’s school shooting,” Altman said.
While MEDIC is not on active rotation this week, Altman said this is the first activation since they joined the group. Had MEDIC been in rotation, a call would have been made to the public for blood donations — a tangible way people far away from tragedy could help those in need.
MEDIC rotates with nine other blood centers every three weeks as part of an on-call shift. If a disaster happens while a center is on call, they are required to send 14 units of blood to the center responding to the event.
Altman urges people to donate blood whenever possible. Being prepared for any disaster by having plenty of blood supplies is one of MEDIC’s biggest concerns, she said.
The next on-call rotation for MEDIC is the week of June 6, Altman said.