Even young boys and girls in Scouting learn early on that it's best to be prepared in the event of an emergency. That was the message at the National Tank Truck Carriers Safety Council Seminar from a FedEx Express manager discussing the possibility of a pandemic H5N1 avian influenza virus outbreak.
"Plan now because the speed of a pandemic outbreak won't allow planning after it hits," said Scott A Mugno. "Everyone on the planet will be at risk."
In 1918 and 1919, a deadly pandemic flu killed 50-million to 100-million people worldwide. More may have died than were counted because they were dying so quickly that officials were overwhelmed with the number of fatalities. In a similar situation today, the transportation industry could face a 60 percent hit in ill employees.
Mugno pointed out that the nation learned during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that the government will not be able to handle an emergency such as a super flu would bring. "You can't count on the government to help you," he said. "You've got to do it yourself." At the same time, companies impacted by the hurricane learned lessons that will make them better prepared for future threats.
Mugno posed some scenarios that could occur such as: would the business be closed or kept open; would day care centers be closed; who would stay at home; how would payroll distributions be handled; would absentees be paid; would customers be screened to avoid exposure; would there be supply shortages; and who would take the place of a person who becomes ill.
All departments should have an emergency plan in place that would respond to those scenarios and others. He advised companies to analyze what could happen and what the response should be.