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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA creates emergency pandemic action plan

    UA officials have designed an emergency response framework to help departments prepare for a potential pandemic.

    The five-level plan details steps that 16 departments and organizations, including the President’s Office and the Office of Public Affairs, will take in the event of a pandemic, said Herb Wagner, associate director of risk management and safety. It is based on guidelines set by the World Health Organization.

    A pandemic is defined as a contagious disease spread over a wide area, like an entire country. Example include influenza and small pox.

    “”The response plan is a work in progress, as individual units – labs, departments, colleges and support service offices – are using the documents to develop emergency response plans specific to their roles and responsibilities,”” Harry McDermott, executive director of Campus Health Services and head of the pandemic planning subgroup, wrote in an e-mail.

    Based on the plan, each department or university-affiliated organization will respond in accordance to the severity of the pandemic, deploying UA-wide actions such as monitoring the situation, activating communications plans for the campus community and assessing needed resources.

    McDermott said influenza was a major consideration when the pandemic subgroup created the plan, since the disease could potentially impact a large number of people and directly affect the campus community.

    He added that the plan was designed so the UA’s emergency response to natural disasters, bioterrorism, bombings and chemical exposures would be up to speed, as well.

    “”We feel that if we are prepared to handle a pandemic situation, then we are going to be prepared to handle just about any other emergency situation that might occur,”” McDermott said.

    Viruses that may cause pandemic influenza can be spread by coughing, sneezing and hand contact, said Steve Holland, director of Risk Management and Safety.

    To help prevent influenza, avoid shaking hands with people believed to be sick and wash hands frequently, Holland said. In the event of an outbreak, large gatherings of people will be minimized or divided, he added.

    Although specifically geared towards the UA, the emergency response plan is not exclusive, Holland said.

    Universities, large corporations and government agencies are among those institutions involved in preparing for potential outbreaks of transmittable disease, he said.

    “”Some might suggest we are at a somewhat increased risk than some other colleges or universities given our proximity to an international border and the number of faculty and students at the UA who travel internationally,”” he said. “”But the UA is at about the same level of risk as other universities.””

    While there is potential for a pandemic, “”it’s not something that happens overnight,”” Holland said.

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