Each year, Be The Match encounters emergency situations that you may not think would be of concern – from blizzards and icy roads to political tensions and global health epidemics. Even under these extreme conditions, Be The Match ensures life-saving marrow is transported to patients anywhere in the world within 48 hours of donation.
When these situations occur, our emergency preparedness team, a group of four full-time staff, partner with a cross functional team of about 20 additional people. So, what types of situations qualify as an emergency, and how does the team ensure marrow is safely transported during these times?
Storms and Natural Disasters:
Ice, snow, tornados, hurricanes and other natural disasters are monitored closely by Be The Match. Once a storm system has been identified and the threat is confirmed, the team pulls together a group of individuals who work with our network of transplant and donor centers and logistics specialists that coordinate transportation of the lifesaving products. This team compiles specialized reports by location to ensure proper precautions are put in place and, if needed, alternate plans are made.
In the event a donor or volunteer courier is not able to fly due to the weather or delays, alternate transportation will be put in place by the Be The Match logistics team. This ensures patients in need of marrow transplant receive their life-saving cells in time.
Transportation of life-saving marrow may be affected by worldwide political events. This summer, during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, a Hamas rocket struck near the Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) called a flight ban on all US based carriers traveling to and from Israel. While this incident unfolded, Be The Match started working out a plan to transport couriers from an unused airport in the south of Israel, that was to be opened during the flight restrictions at Ben-Gurion. Thankfully, the FAA flight ban was lifted before this measure needed to be taken.
Volunteer courier safety, while always a concern, was ever heightened during this time. For this reason, the logistics team worked with external contractors, used to navigating extreme situations, to pick up and deliver into Israel. “Our Logistics team did a fantastic job at ensuring alternate couriers were available. We work to ensure that transport process is as safe and timely as possible for the cells and for the couriers” said Cullen Case, Senior Manager of Emergency Preparedness.
Global health is also an important consideration when transporting marrow. “Starting this summer we have been paying close attention the Ebola outbreak,” said Case. When delivering products to and from South Africa, the team has been mindful of the developing epidemic in Western Africa. Keeping up with safety precautions and addressing concerns for those travelling on behalf of Be The Match throughout our global community is a key activity. “With Ebola, it’s about being aware of the situation, rather than an actual concern of possible exposure to the virus, at this time” said Case, “so, we frequently update staff about the situation in Africa.”
With all of the hard work and planning this team does, every patient has received their life-saving marrow transplant, even during emergency situations. “Our operations staff is made up of dedicated professionals who will do whatever it takes to help patients in need,” said Case.