SOURCE: Emergency Management & Safety Solutions

Emergency Management & Safety Solutions

November 11, 2009 14:00 ET

Emergency Management & Safety Solutions Urges Businesses to Take Action and Prepare for the H1N1 Pandemic

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - November 11, 2009) - Emergency Management & Safety Solutions (EMS Solutions), the crisis planner for many Fortune 100 companies, international government agencies and large non-profit organizations, is providing free resources to help companies better prepare for and prevent transmission of this year's H1N1 flu pandemic. Today, over 180 countries have experienced the H1N1 virus outbreak and approximately 6,500 people have died -- including over 1,500 in North America, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Illness with the H1N1 virus ranges from mild to severe. Although most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths have occurred from infection with the virus.

Information analyzed by the CDC supports the conclusion that the H1N1 flu has caused a greater disease burden in people younger than 25 years of age than older people. Pregnancy and other previously recognized high-risk medical conditions from seasonal influenza appear to be associated with the increased risk of complications from swine flu. These underlying conditions include asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, neuro-cognitive and neuromuscular disorders and pregnancy.

"When planning for a pandemic crisis, companies must include broad thinking about how their supply chains, communications and workforces would be disrupted," says Regina Phelps, President of EMS Solutions. "It is especially important that they enforce procedures such as hand-washing and restricted visitors during the height of an emergency, which experts say could result in an average 30 percent absenteeism."

People on the priority list for the H1N1 vaccine should get it as soon as it is available this fall. Workers who frequently travel both domestically and internationally should receive the vaccine. Also, cautiously distance yourself and loved ones from people at work, school and those you interact with socially.

One of the main concerns for most companies is to prevent high absentee rates. Executives need to consider whether employees would be equipped to work from home during a pandemic, and how to care for employees who may suddenly become seriously ill while at work. In addition, it is recommended that employers should adopt a more relaxed sick-leave policy to prevent sick employees from feeling pressured to show up to work. This includes the consideration of hourly workers, who don't get paid when they don't come to work.

Also, managers should supply staff with antibacterial wipes to clean work areas and telephones. A well thought-out plan is important before it is disseminated to employees, and employers should be sensitive to drawing a fine line between educating people and scaring them.

To help keep up with the facts and statistics of the swine flu, Regina Phelps, R.N., B.S.N., M.P.A., C.E.M., an internationally recognized thought leader and expert in the field of emergency management and continuity planning, updates her H1N1 blog with all the latest news from around the world at: H1N1 - Pandemic Influenza News (http://emssolutionsinc.wordpress.com). Additionally, Phelps has begun a new series of pandemic awareness videos, which can be found on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JAJ5KTJXfU), and you can follow her pandemic conference updates on Facebook (www.facebook.com/regina.phelps). For more resources on pandemic planning for businesses, including podcasts, employee educational tools, flu symptoms and posters you could display in your workplace, please visit: www.ems-solutionsinc.com/climatechange.html and http://www.ems-solutionsinc.com/handouts.html.

With over 27 years of experience, EMS Solutions has written hundreds of pandemic plans and conducted over 300 pandemic exercises for some of the largest global companies. Emergency Management & Safety Solutions is an internationally recognized firm in the field of emergency management, pandemic and business continuity planning. Established in 1982, the firm has provided consultation, training and educational speaking services to corporations, government agencies and non-profit organizations. Select clients include AEGON, Research in Motion, Liberty Mutual, Northern Trust, Macy's Inc., VISA Inc., Triton Container, Duke University, Stanford University, Lam Research, MasterCard, Caltech Institute, International Finance Corporation (IFC), United States Social Security Administration, Gilead and The World Bank.

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