What Blood Centers Can Learn From Hurricane Harvey In Preparation For Hurricane Irma

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Texas and Louisiana have been left to recover from what could be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. More than 50 inches of rain and widespread flooding led to catastrophic damage and imminent risk to lives of local patients. The threat to the blood supply in Texas and Louisiana continues to put more lives at risk as we estimate more than 6,000 people were not able to donate because of the storm.

As blood centers on the east coast prepare for the onslaught of Hurricane Irma, we wanted to share some of the key points and learnings from the last few weeks with the storms in Texas/Louisiana region in case they spurred additional thought or help to your processes in preparing for Irma’s arrival:

  • Reach out to your Emergency Commission, Attorney General, Governor, Senator, etc. to make sure that you get an exemption from state of emergency declarations.  Louisiana, for example, declared a state of emergency which included a ban on all telephonic solicitation.  Billy Weales, CEO of The Blood Center, was able to get a hold of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and get written permission for both Incept and each blood center to do outbound recruitment calling.
  • Pre-prep orphaned donor lists.  For donors that have appointments scheduled for days where you can’t draw, have the lists prepared to release to the contact center for rescheduling so that you don’t have to worry about the data/list pull in the middle of all the other crises.
  • Work with local media to help spread the word through your community about the greater need for support following the storm. Chad A. Douglas, CEO of LifeShare Blood Center, supported the Governor of Louisiana’s initiative to have a statewide blood drive on Friday, September 8th, as well as declaring the week of September 4 through 10 as National Blood Donation Week to encourage people across the country to donate.
In Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, many communities have not been able to donate blood to support the medical needs of local patients. Giving blood this Friday will ensure donated blood is available for the patients that are in Louisiana hospitals and help provide for our neighbors who are experiencing such devastation in southeast Texas.
— Chad A. Douglas, CEO of LifeShare Blood Center.
  • Segregate land-lines from mobile for prioritization by geography.  In locations where homes are evacuated or lines are down, wasting time dialing home phones and land-lines will keep you from getting to cell phones of people that may be able to donate and want to do something to help the community
  • Expect long lines and wait times when you re-open and be prepared to ask donors to provide their name and contact info so that you can reach them in a few days/weeks when they will be most needed.  Have someone recording this information electronically so you don’t end up with stacks of notebook paper with names and numbers.

We wish you and your team well and are here to help if you need support, a quick conversation/advice, or anything else.  Good luck and God Bless!