Is the 2009 H1N1 pandemic scare good for us? Definitely.
The bad thing is that people became sick or died because of the flu, yet there are a few good things that came from this recent scare.
First, to put in in perspective, according to the Center for Disease Control, 36,000 people die in the US annually from influenza, mostly resulting from secondary problems of pneumonia and respiratory illnesses you can get when you are weak from the flu. For another comparison, Just under 40,000 people die from automobile accidents every year in the United Stated.
So what are the good things?
- It made everyone more aware of basic hygiene like washing your hands, coughing on your sleeve/arm/tissue instead of your hand and promoted the use of hand sanitizers in buildings. Will these things stop it, no. But they will help to reduce the transmission. Every time you do these things, you are blocking the path of transmission and lowering everyone’s risk.
- It made everyone dust off, or even develop, their Pandemic Management Plans. It probably made many Facility Managers realize that these plans are a guideline only – you still need good flexible planning since you can’t account for everything that will happen and flexibility is the key. As Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”
- It made tenants and occupants think about how they will deal with a pandemic and forced them to interface with the Facility Management professionals to discuss and plan what will happen. By doing more visible things like hand sanitizers, we have raised the awareness and Facility Management’s importance in their planning process. In order for us to plan, they need to tell us what their plans are first, so we can react to their needs, rather than guessing.
- It reminded us in a gentle way that we need to be prepared and learn more about it, including sharing approaches, and that our local, national and global institutions and associations need to work together to manage future pandemics.
But now isn’t the time to relax. You need to be constantly ready for the next time.
If you are interested in more detailed info about the flu, I suggest you check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza