Business Group Publishes Guide for Companies to Deal with Terrorist Attacks

The National Business Group on Health has launched a guide for companies to deal with biological and chemical-terrorist attacks. The Employer Toolkit, titled "Terrorism and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Initiative," was announced in a teleconference directed at business reporters covering the health-care industry.

The initiative arose from recognizing the need for a partnership between industry and public health authorities, Dr. Paul Schenk, medical director for NBC Universal, said Wednesday in New York.

"Certainly, we have all, from the employer perspective, realized that it is essential for us to forge relationships with public health during any crisis situation," he said.

Local public health departments are the lead agencies for any bioterror response or communicable disease outbreak. They are responsible for tracing and containing the outbreak, said Dr. Stephanie Bailey, the director of the Metro Public Health Department of Nashville, Tenn.

"When we had the anthrax hoax in Nashville after 9-11, we had three major businesses involved, and so you do not want to start your relationship at a time of crisis," she said. "You want to have created a plan. You want to have tested it before an event and, I think, we have been negligent not to have included business in our plans prior to the events that started to happen around 9-11."

Businesses should know the local public health director and know the city's disaster plan for such and event, she said.

The toolkit, a two-year project, leans heavily on a survey of public health agencies and businesses to learn how to improve communication. Portions of the Web-based toolkit -- which contains information on bioterror agents -- were tested in New York. The kit also contains information for families, travel resources and mental health information, he said.