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H1N1 Flu Outbreak: ‘Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste’ On Emergency Preparedness

April 30th, 2009 · 5 Comments

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” When White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel uttered those words in November he wasn’t referring to Swine Flu. But it is applicable to the current situation. Whether or not H1N1 turns into a major pandemic or not, it should be a catalyst for citizens and community institutions to review and bolster their emergency preparedness.

The American public is being warned that the H1N1 virus could turn into a pandemic very soon which would require a lot of changes in our lives. But to date only typical flu avoidance behavior is being recommended. (I was prepared for that as I have actually been following those guidelines for the past five months — since I have been undergoing chemotherapy which lowers one’s immune system.) However, officials have also smartly begun suggesting we think about ‘what if’ contingencies. President Obama mentioned this in his news conference last night: ”if more schools are forced to close, we’ve recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if their children do have to stay home.” In Senate testimony, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano elaborated:

“The best thing parents can do right now is to make sure you have a contingency plan in place so that you’ve made arrangements to care for your child in the event of a school closure. This is also a good reminder for businesses to think about contingency planning as well. As I said, we’re going to be working through this for a while. You have to anticipate what happens if you have employees who are parents. The schools have closed. The employees need to stay home. How do you continue with your business operations? And so all of us should be dusting off our business contingency plans, looking at things such as telecommuting and the like so that operations keep on going.”

Whether or not H1N1 turns into a full fledged pandemic here, it is a crisis that should not go to waste when it comes to individual, community, school and business preparedness. As Greg Dworkin, co-founder of the Fluwiki, suggests in a post “Next Steps on H1N1 Flu’:

Remember, you are not powerless. In addition to hand washing, covering you cough, and staying home if you are ill, you can also start to think about what to do if your local school needs to close for a few days or a few weeks. And if someone gets sick with this mild flu, can you stay home and take care of them for 10-14 days without leaving the house? If you are going to stock up on sanitizer, consider getting basic supplies you’d need to do so. Plan ahead, and remember that anything you don’t need because this fizzles, you’ll use with the next storm that cuts off power (make it all hazards, including some extra batteries.) This is an opportunity. HHS has been recommending two weeks of food and a plan for water for years.

For guidance, the well-regarded Trust for America’s Health today re-issued a series of It’s Not Flu As Usual guides to help in pandemic flu preparedness for families, businesses, medical providers, and community groups.

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Tags: Pandemic Flu

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 linda l. hartley // May 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I work at a mental health center that must go on to service it’s clients no matter what. In order to maintain as much as the staff as possible my employer has asked me to come up with a plan for child care for the employee. I already run all the day treatment from ages 3 to 18 in several separate programs. Those clients will not be in my care if school close and they want to us my space to provide the employees with child care since I already deal with kids and what they need. Can you give me some direcition for the kind of paper work that an employee would need to complete and some guidelines for such. I have all that kids would need enviromentally. Of course this is very short in exsistence. thanks, Linda

  • 2 admin // May 3, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I might suggest you contact your local department of health or office of emergency management, or check their websites to see what needs to be done. I would think that they will have information since I imagine there are others who have questions in your community like this.

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  • 4 Request For Reader Ideas: “What Are The Lessons Of The H1N1/Swine Flu Outbreak In Public Preparedness For Future Emergencies?” // May 7, 2009 at 9:18 pm

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  • 5 Request For Reader Ideas: “What Are The Lessons Of The H1N1/Swine Flu Outbreak On Citizen Preparedness/Response For Future Emergencies?” // May 12, 2009 at 7:03 am

    [...] improve the government’s emergency social media capability. Another lesson is that we should not ‘let a serious crisis go to waste’ and make sure we are each prepared for the next — possibly more serious — [...]

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