AUSTIN, Texas - We Are Blood is joining with blood centers in 5 other states to address the nationwide blood supply shortage.
We Are Blood, the sole provider and protector of blood to more than 40 hospitals and medical facilities locally, says it has joined the first-in-the-nation partnership to prepare the community for emergency situations where blood needs are high.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps is composed of seven blood centers from five states that have committed to collecting additional blood donations in rotation to be held in reserve for any critical-need scenario, like a mass shooting or natural disaster.
"Communities across the nation and in Central Texas have experienced long-term, sustained blood donation shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Nick Canedo, VP of Community Engagement at We Are Blood. "Shortages put our communities at risk, especially when enduring tragedies like the mass shooting in downtown Austin last June."
Joining We Are Blood in this partnership are other non-profit regional blood centers, including Oklahoma Blood Institute, California's Houchin Community Blood Bank, The Community Blood Center in Wisconsin, Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank, South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, and Carter BloodCare.
"There is always a need for blood in our community," added Austin-Travis County EMS Chief Jasper Brown. "It's not just the car accidents or traumatic injuries-there are unforeseen tragedies and events that occur when people need blood to be replaced so there is a need for blood donation and an adequate blood supply all year long."
As the exclusive supplier of blood and platelets to hospitals and clinics in Central Texas, We Are Blood says it helped found BERC to be proactive in its emergency planning, rather than rely on an increasingly unstable backup supply plan.
"I cannot express the importance of getting out and donating blood enough," said Austin Police Department Interim Chief Joseph Chacon. "We are urgently in need of blood donors, especially during this pandemic. Please donate as often as you're able to and encourage friends and family to do the same."
We Are Blood is calling on Central Texans to make donations to decrease the local blood donation shortage, and create a safety net that protects all communities when tragedy strikes.
To donate blood, sign up at any one of three area donor centers or at a mobile blood drive; appointments are mandatory. Check locations for hours and days of operation. We Are Blood also welcomes anyone who would like to host a blood drive in support of BERC.
"COVID-19 has forced every agency and organization-including those of us in public safety-to rethink how we do business," added Fire Chief Joel G. Baker. "For the Austin Fire Department, our primary service is public interaction with, and care for, the community on what may be their worst day ever. So we've had to think outside the box in how we provide that service in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, much like We Are Blood is doing with the BERC program. We're excited to be a part of this groundbreaking new way to help deliver the 'gift of life" to those who need it, regardless of whatever circumstances may be swirling around that might have previously made that gift more difficult, even impossible to deliver."