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Collierville shooting activated emergency blood supply

Blood Emergency Readiness Corps responded to first call after their launch.
Credit: WATN

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — The mass shooting at the Kroger in Collierville sparked an urgent need for extra pints of blood to care for the 12 surviving victims who were rushed to hospitals after the assault. 

Answering a call from Vitalant, a blood supplier serving the local area, the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC) raced to ship boxes of red blood cells for trauma care. This success marked the first time that the new BERC network has responded to a major blood emergency.  

According to Nelson Hellwig, CEO of the Alliance for Community Transfusion Services (ACTS) which coordinates BERC logistics and administration, the importance of and need for the blood reserve is evident by its activation only two weeks from its launch announcement on September 9th. 

“The long-term drop off in US blood collections has put practically every community at risk for running dry in the face of mass casualties,” Hellwig said. “Our transfusion safety net is already saving lives and certainly will be doing so again many, many more times.” 

Hellwig added, "This early demonstration of BERC’s value can only help strengthen it. I am confident we are going to see many more blood centers signing up to support BERC by committing stand-by units as part of the weekly rotation of shared responsibility. Vitalant will hopefully be an easy recruit because they have already experienced the benefits of this vital collaboration.” 

This event will also motivate blood donors, says John Armitage, MD, CEO of the Oklahoma Blood Institute. “People who give blood are healers who want to see the maximum benefits come from their giving acts,” Armitage said. “BERC essentially supersizes their generosity beyond the patient impacts by helping to reduce injury consequences on the community and to boost positive results from the heroic efforts of first responders and medical teams.” 

The original seven BERC blood centers are Carter BloodCare (Dallas), Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank(Harrisburg), The Community Blood Center  (Appleton, WI), Houchin Community Blood Bank (Bakersfield, CA), Oklahoma Blood Institute (Oklahoma City), South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (San Antonio), and We Are Blood(Austin).