According to the CDC, flu activity most commonly peaks in January and February. Click on this URL, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/WeeklyFluActivityMap.htm, to see the latest summary of flu activity in the United States. As you will see, the flu is currently widespread in many states.
Click here to view an 8:51 screencast that I did of the importance of disaster planning in libraries. The focus of the screencast is on major disasters that can greatly impact library operations.
Every morning, I spend about 20 minutes looking over my RSS news feeds, all related to emergency preparedness. Currently, most of the news is about the just-ended hurricane season, however, I’ve noticed a trend toward a greater concern about the threat of bioterrorism. The two events that seem to have prompted this concern are the release of the progress report by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism coupled with the amount of time it has taken to distribute the H1N1 vaccine. The Commission’s report warns that “The biological threat is greater than the nuclear; the acquisition of deadly pathogens, and their weaponization and dissemination in aerosol form, would entail fewer technical hurdles than the theft or production of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium and its assembly into an improvised nuclear device.” This warning along with the potential of an accidental incident dealing with harzardous materials should prompt us all to be looking at our shelter-in-place procedures.
Cyber terrorism is also getting a lot of attention, thanks in part by last month’s 60 Minutes report. A potential target, experts warn, is the power grid, so you may want to keep your print core textbooks accessible and up-to-date.
Statistically, December is the month with the fewest tornadoes, so this is a good time to be looking over your tornado response procedures. We’re also seeing a downward trend of H1N1 activity. Hopefully, you all have a solid pandemic plan in place in the event that the virus spikes again in the winter or spring. (If not, check out our Pandemic Planning Resources page.) And if you have a pandemic plan, you are therefore ready for a severe winter storm, as many of the steps you would take in a pandemic (e.g. reduced staffing, work from home) you could also take with a severe winter storm.
Thanks to a grant from the Southeastern/Atlantic Region of the NN/LM, an Emergency Preparedness & Service Continuity meeting was held before the annual meeting of the Alabama Health Libraries Association (ALHeLA) last week in Mobile, Alabama. Featured were Dr. Ronald Franks, Vice President for Health Sciences and Beverly Kellen, Practice Director, Student Health, University of South Alabama, who shared their thoughts on pandemic influenza planning. In addition, Dan Wilson, coordinator, NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, presented “A 10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning,” and Beth Wescott, Network Access Coordinator for SE/A, spoke about services and support offered by the RML.
Much progress was made at the meeting. All participants agreed to complete a service continuity PReP plan for their library and to participate in a future statewide table-top exercise. Thanks to Jie Li, Assistant Director for Collection Management, University of South Alabama Biomedical Library, for organizing the event!
Here at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, our pandemic planning group met earlier this week to assess the status of our preparedness for possible changes to staffing and operations in the event of the anticipated surge in H1N1 and seasonal influenza. We are attaching the document that resulted from the discussion at the meeting, in case it will be helpful to others who may also be in the planning process. To see the document, click on the “Pandemic Planning” tab above and find the link to “Pandemic plan CMHSL public” on that page.
The flu.gov website provided by CDC has recently added content specifically about planning for H1N1 during this season of influenza. Among the many target audience groups they address are “Small Businesses” and “Institutions of Higher Education” (IHEs). While many of us are involved at IHEs, the information in that section is directed mostly to those who are preparing for implementation of policy, for managing student health, facilities maintenance, etc. The “Small Business” information, however, can apply very well to libraries, which are anticipating staff shortages and some impact to their day-to-day operations. In the section on “How to Write Your Plan,” there is some excellent guidance to help prepare for personnel issues that may arise when staff are ill or are caring for family members who are ill. The CDC recommends that anyone who has had any type of flu stay home for at least 24 hours after body temperature has returned to normal without the aid of fever-reducing medications, and they are anticipating that most people who become ill will be absent from work or school for 7 to 10 days. Something to think about!
We’ve added another resource to the Pandemic Planning page here on the Toolkit. Check out the “Pandemic Planning Table“ (available in both Word and PDF on the Pandemic Planning Page) for a descriptive and sequential method for developing an effective service continuity plan in the event of a global pandemic, such as the one we are facing now from the Novel H1N1 virus. The procedures shown in the table depict a schedule for pandemic preparedness. The table is loosely based on one from the World Health Organization (WHO), but the description of the levels has been adapted to suit this particular pandemic. While the WHO model is based on a virus that originates in animals (e.g. avian influenza), our model begins with a human-to-human novel virus. The procedures detailed in the Table we’ve created should be easily adaptable to just about any type of library. We welcome your comments and suggestions–what do you think?