If you didn’t add a Pandemic Plan section to your Business Continuity Plan last time around, now is a great time to get one in place, in the downtime between flu seasons.
Now that the Southern Hemisphere has weathered the flu season during the Swine Flu H1N1 pandemic of 2009 it seems like the worse is behind us, although many talk of a second wave of more virulent flu next year.
Either way, having some basic pandemic plans in place in your organization is prudent risk management and some of the counter-measures make sense for business-as-usual times as well to reduce spreading of any contagious illnesses and thus employee downtime year round.
One thing is for certain, pandemic planning will stay on the radar for risk and audit, to ensure that organizations are more pro-actively prepared for next time.
Influenza pandemics have occurred at irregular intervals throughout history with three occurrences within the last century: 1918 (‘Spanish flu’), 1957 (‘Asian’ flu) and 1968 (‘Hong Kong’ flu). The 1918/19 pandemic is estimated to have caused over 20 million deaths world-wide.
A key reason that Pandemic Planning stands out from normal Business Continuity Planning is rather than a single ‘trigger event’ like a disaster incident occurring and then invocation of your action plan, for a pandemic there is a staged ramp up. There should be several action plans in place for the organization, one for business as usual times, and further to be activated when key indicators are triggered in your organization, geographic area or by the Government altering their official ‘alert’ level.
Creating a pandemic plan for your organization doesn’t need to be a massive undertaking. Previous work you have done on business continuity can be leveraged, as can the previous work that OpsCentre has done in creating such plans for other clients.
Now that we all have the experience of how things progressed with the 2009 pandemic, we can use OpsCentre’s pandemic planning framework to create action plans that draw upon this experience and balance the realistic risk with level of response required.
Now is the time, when we aren’t all in the midst of a crisis to get those pandemic plans added to your business continuity management program.