Oklahoma Blood Institute helped create and joined a first of its kind, emergency blood reserve. It's a partnership with a number of other blood centers across the country to keep the blood supply stocked nationwide during emergencies.
OBI is now asking Oklahomans to be the reason someone in another part of the country survives a natural or man-made disaster.
"Part of yourself is actually part of the first response,” Oklahoma Blood Institute president and CEO Dr. John Armitage said. “Part of you will be at that disaster site.”
The Oklahoma Blood Institute is one of seven blood centers spanning five states joining the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps, or BERC.
The group will set aside a number of donations that will be ready to be shipped out if there is a mass casualty event.
"We designate that unit for a week,” Dr. Armitage said. “It stays with us. We're not going to ship it anywhere. It's kind of in a quarantine where we know that are our units that we've promised.”
The partnership comes out of necessity, as blood centers nationwide watch stock dwindle, had to cancel events due to covid, and just saw less people come in to donate. The BERC partnership means an immediate supply can be sent at a moment's notice.
"The people who can save lives during the emergency are the people who gave two days before," Dr. Armitage said.
Dr. Armitage also discussed about how OBI was able to help during a national emergency on September 11th, 2001.
“In all that crisis, we were there for those victims. We were there to show support in a tangible way,” Dr. Armitage said. “Not just hoping they get better."
Oklahoma City Fire Department battalion chief Benny Fulkerson said without emergency blood, first responder actions at the scene may not be as affective in the long run, as well.
"They [firefighters] could give that patient the greatest chance of survival but if that blood is not available or it is delayed the outcome for that patient can be diminished,” Fulkerson said.
Dr. Armitage said the partnership helps connect people from across the country in a time of need, through the life-saving gift.
"One of the joyous things about trying to create this program is there are other blood centers, exactly the same good-hearted people are going to have our back,” Dr. Armitage said.
Any BERC units not used will be put back into the local supply.