Suncoast Blood Centers joins national network to bolster 'fragile' blood supply

From the Waukesha Christmas parade to the crowd surge at Astroworld in Houston, there are everyday, real examples of emergencies where blood is needed immediately.

"Every single day, the blood supply is fragile," warned John Hall, the chief operating officer for Suncoast Blood Centers.

Suncoast Blood Centers is one of 16 blood centers from across 29 states forming BERC, the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps.

Each center will store extra blood that can be flown out to areas that need it.

"There is a window period of about a day to a day and a half, where there is no blood supply available because of the testing," explained Hall. "If you come in and donate tomorrow after a mass tragedy today, that blood is not available for another day to a day and a half."

That's why the supply is vital.

Local law enforcement are supporting BERC, including Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan.

In 1995, the godfather of her children and friend, Tampa Police Officer Michael Vigil, was shot in the leg and chest while chasing robbery suspects.

"For the first few days, we didn't know whether he would live or die," she recalled. "He was hanging on by a thread. There was a massive blood drive held over the weekend; 4,600 people came out to donate. That right there reiterates the need to build up our supplies during times of crisis."

Vigil would ultimately receive 160 units of blood and survive.

"My challenge today to everybody is let’s not wait for a time of crisis," Chief Bevan added.

To find out how you can help visit: or call 1-866-97-BLOOD.