H1N1 Pandemic; is it over yet?
Date: Sunday, November 29 @ 08:24:39 PST
Government agencies and the World Health Organization (WHO) have risen to the challenge doing an excellent job in preparing for the H1N1 flu outbreak, raising awareness, prompting private businesses and governments to act, and their preventive actions have limited the spread of the virus worldwide.
Depending on your personal situation, the H1N1 pandemic has been a disaster if you have lost a loved one, a friend, or been infected, a nonevent if you have not been affected at all.
Every single day the news have been pounding the issues of vaccinations, work disruption, prevention, absenteeism and the like, creating a pandemic planning fatigue and making it viewed as another overstated, overreacted event, not what was predicted would happen during the 2009 flu season. Maybe the H1N1 flu has not peaked yet and the worst may be in store but although there has been widespread infection the pandemic has not been so severe or lethal, more like any regular flu season.
The good news is that preparing for the H1N1 flu has gotten communities, businesses owners and senior management to understand the urgency of the threat and the importance of planning while it has raised unprecedented awareness about contingency planning.
There are benefits to be gained from the effort of having developed a pandemic plan, among others:
- Employee participation and awareness
- Emergency communication
- Working from home arrangements
- Planning for continuity of core business functions
- Plan documented
Donít let H1N1 Planning go to waste
The H1N1 pandemic preparations made executive management of small and medium size business (SMBs) recognized that the risk is real and of sufficient seriousness to realize the importance of preparedness and long term resilience of their organizations, most have implemented plans for their core business functions and systems The important lesson to be learned is that these planning efforts should not be ignored or discontinued once the buzz of H1N1 pandemic becomes a thing of the past.
During the Y2K event companies spent millions of dollars, time and planning efforts trying to avert a major disaster that proved to be a nonevent. Away went all the years of planning and documentation that became obsolete and forgotten the moment we found out that computers booted properly and the Y2K bug had been conquered, no to be mentioned again until the realization sank in for many organizations that the process and documentation should have been kept up to date for business continuity and disaster recovery planning purposes.
Regardless of whether you are now weathering the H1N1 storm or have been untouched by the pandemic, the planning efforts, education and experience gained as well as the planning documents developed should be kept alive and maintained for future eventualities as they may prove to be the most important project that can save your company of an unforeseen future event.
So, what should you do now?
- Stay informed.
- Monitor the situation including absences
- Maintain awareness. Donít let your guard down, the flu season is not over and we may have not seen it peak yet.
- Learn from your H1N1 preparedness experience in your organization. The education gained is invaluable.
- Keep your employees engaged and informed and use the planning experience and documentation to develop a business continuity and disaster program for your organization.
- Although you may not have developed a full blown business continuity and disaster recovery plan, you have addressed core elements of your business, have documented the plan and should be maintained not go to waste.
- Expect the unexpected. Keep your plans up to date. The next step may be to acquire planning software to assist in the maintenance of your plans using the H1N1 information and fully develop a realistic BCP/DR plan.
- Perform a gap analysis to evaluate your BCP/DR posture.
All businesses provide products and services that others depend on and have a special responsibility to their customers and community to plan for continued operations in emergencies and disasters and should plan accordingly.
Roberto O. Ramirez, President
Survival Insights LLC