AVIAN FLU Preparedness - Is your Central Station Ready?

This past May I attended the Central Station Alarm Associations annual meeting in Savannah , GA. Over dinner one evening I entered into a very interesting conversation with Ivan Spector of Sentinal Alarm in Montreal , Canada and Lou Fiore an industry veteran and regular contributor to SECURITY Dealer magazine. Both gentlemen suggested that I look into addressing the topic of Avian Flu and what Central Stations need to do to prepare for such an event.

Let's think about this for a moment as it related to the rest of the corporate environment –

What if - Up to 50% of your employees don't show up for work because they are sick?

What if - Another 25% of your employees are afraid to come to work?

What if - Tens of millions of people require medical attention?

What if - Healthcare systems become overwhelmed?

What if - Essential services break down as key personnel are infected?

What if - Businesses and schools closed?

What if - International travel is limited as governments restrict entry?

These are the predictions from the experts. There is reason to be concerned, these events occur every 30 to 50 years and we are overdue. If you own a central station you must mitigate the risk and have a plan! The truth is, a flu shot may not be enough!

Now let's think about it from the stand point of a central station –

What if - The first responders, first responder wasn't there to answer the calls for help from our citizens?

What if – The Police, Fire and EMS couldn't be dispatched to the scenes of mass casualty incidents?

What if - Civil unrest, rioting and looting sprang up across the US with little or no Police or Military intervention?

There are plans in place, there are best practices to share, there are key areas of your business that need to be identified and analyzed. To read more about how you can prepare your company to minimize the spread of the disease, reduce illness and death rates, attempt to maintain essential services and to limit the economic and social consequences of the outbreak let's look at them now.

Pandemic Management Process

Prevent Mitigate Prepare Respond Recover

Companies are gearing their responses to the following trigger points aka Phases

Phase 1 – No Virus Present

Phase 2 – Virus in Animals not transmitted to Humans

Phase 3 – Human infection in Virus, No human to human spread - We are here

Phase 4 – Small clusters of human to human spread

Phase 5 – Large clusters, virus adapting

Phase 6 – PANDEMIC – Wide Spread Transmissions

Understanding the implications of a Pandemic or global event.

Pandemic Waves

Flu waves last 2 to 12 weeks but the entire event may last 6 to 18 months.

Waves fade then recur multiple times

Illness lasting 7 to 14 days, recovery period could be prolonged

Most people treated at home. Healthcare overwhelmed

Peak of waves last 1 to 4 weeks with 50% absenteeism

What can you expect?

Locations may be affected at different times with different recovery periods

Supply chain will also be impacted

Must guarantee a clean and safe work environment

Travel and transportation shutdown

Civil unrest


Identify Employees that will be off work.

Family with Children

Family with Parents (Elderly)

Identify and Manage Business Critical Operations

Which facilities can you afford to shutdown completely?

Which facilities are business critical?

Identify Business Critical Staff.

Develop plan to get them to and from work safely.

Which suppliers are business critical? Request that providers develop an appropriate pandemic plan.

Your objective is to reduce sickness and mortality in employees and to maintain business continuity.

Balancing the Needs of the People and the Business

People Focus – Awareness and Education, Reducing Illness, Mitigating Anxiety

and Assisting with Hardship.

Business Focus – Customer Support, Maintaining Supply Chain, Preserving

Revenue, Rebounding Quickly.

Companies can do little to improve access to vaccines.

Antiviral medications like Tamiflu and Relenza can reduce severity and duration of illness if taken within 24 hours, but is unproven. Central Stations may consider stockpiling in order to treat mission critical and high risk personnel before a vaccine is produced.

Non Pharmacological Interventions may be the best for companies. NPI's prevent, reduce and delay.

Reduce your employee's exposure to virus.

Social Distancing and Isolation, Personal Hygiene, Home Quarantine if family member is ill, PPE or Personal Protective Equipment i.e. masks, gloves and

Entry Screening and travel restriction can be employed.

Review Relevant Past Corporate Experiences –

  • Lessons from SARS
  • Disaster Recovery Events like Katrina
  • Previous Designation of Mission Critical Personnel
  • Identification of Supply Chain Vulnerabilities
  • History of Unexpected Facility Closures
  • Corporate Wide Educational Programs
  • Corporate Perspective on Seasonal Influenza Campaigns

Integration of Existing Corporate Assets

Existing Plan Role in Pandemic Planning
Business Continuity Plan Pandemic Plan may use existing infrastructure
Crisis Management Plan Use existing decision making structure / drills
Emergency Notification Coordinate Alerts
Travel Tracker Identify and Notify Travelers at Risk
Health Benefits Pandemic Specific Benefits
Attendance Analysis Absentee Tracking
Community Relations Liaison with local public health authorities
Supply Chain Mgmt Alterations of Service Level Agreements

Steps in Pandemic Planning

  1. Create a Pandemic Planning Team
  2. Educate Team Members In Pandemic Issues
  3. Develop Corporate Pandemic Plan
  4. Customize Plan to Corporate Locations
  5. Implement Plan – Train and Educate Personnel
  6. Test Plan and Drill
  7. Monitor and Modify Plan as needed.

Develop Crisis Management Plan or Table. This is a tool to help your crisis mgmt team manage through this crisis.

Communications Stockpile - Create documents that you can push out to your people quickly. FAQ's sheets, frequently asked questions, posters, instructions etc..etc…

Must be accurate and rapidly implemented to reduce anxiety, maintain control and give clear direction.

Public Transport to Work

Only business critical employees to come into work – who can work vs. who should work

Protect personnel so that they can return to work safely.

For companies, the main focus is ensuring employee health and maintaining business continuity. To do so, companies should:

  • Monitor an evolving pandemic, as it is a dynamic situation.
  • Keep up-to-date with recommendations from health experts, which are likely to change in different phases of the pandemic.
  • Ensure clear communication between staff, health practitioners, government and non-government organizations involved with policy and disease control.
  • Reduce the chances that employees become infected.
  • Reduce the chances of all employees and mission-critical staff becoming infected at the same time.
  • Identify those employees and dependents that fall into the "high risk" group and ensure their health care is optimized.

Identify if and when essential staff and dependents should be moved from their present location, and to where they should be relocated.

Items to Stockpile



Canned Food

Bottled Water


Emergency Supplies for Two Weeks

To plan for a pandemic:

Store a two week supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. This can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters.

Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.

Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.

Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.

Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for an influenza pandemic.

Items to have on hand for an extended stay at work or home:

Examples of food and non-perishables:

Ready-to-eat canned meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and soups

Protein or fruit bars, Dry cereal or granola, Peanut butter or nuts, Dried Fruit and Crackers, Canned juices, Bottled water, Canned or jarred baby food and formula, Pet food, Other non-perishable items

Examples of medical, health and emergency supplies:

Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment

Soap and water, or alcohol-based (60-95%) hand wash, Medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, Thermometer, Anti-diarrhea medication, Vitamins, Fluids with electrolytes, Cleansing agent/soap, Flashlight, Batteries, Portable radio, Manual can opener, Garbage bags, Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers

I would like to thank the following web sites as their information was invaluable while doing my research.