Monday, August 04, 2008

Planning for a Pandemic? Meh.

In direct contrast to the immediately previous blog entry, and a week after the NYT's Freakonomics blog asked, "Why do voters reward poor disaster preparedness?" a story comes out of Georgia about some local elected officials who haven't even shown up to the meeting to prepare for a pandemic flu:

Jones County’s biggest problem with a pandemic flu occurrence may be the perceived apathy demonstrated in planning for the event by local elected officials.

Jones County’s pandemic flu preparedness committee met July 17 at the Emergency Management office and has the task of educating the public to the reality of having to be self-sufficient if the disease hits. In the case of a pandemic, communities cannot be dependent on federal or even state assistance.

City and county elected officials were conspicuous by their absence at the meeting with Probate Judge Mike Greene the sole representative.
They also didn't show up to a table-top exercise in February:
An after-action report by the North Central Health District Office about Jones County’s Feb. 20 table top exercise stated, “The fact that no elected officials or business leaders were present at the exercise lends itself to the belief that the leadership of Jones County does not seem to have bought into this concept.”
Any local official who isn't involved in this type of planning is doing their community a great disservice. A pandemic is not a question of if, but when. And every community will be affected.

I've bolded the key concept in red. Every local official needs to realize that in the event of a major pandemic, local communities are going to be largely on their own. Local planning is essential.