Disaster Planning in LA

October 10, 2006

I’ve missed several days of posting (unusual for me) primarily because I was in LA and my hotel was switching to wifi from wired and I couldn’t get online. (they forgot to tell me to push the “free” button rather than putting in my room number to pay for it)

I was invited to speak at the LA Chamber of Commerce meeting along with Lynne Doll, president of The Rogers Group. Lynne and I spoke about Crisis Communications. But the meeting was focused on preparing a businesses and organizations for disasters. The first presenter was Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the head of Public Health for LA County. His presentation was on pandemic flu planning and the two remarkable things that stood out for me was that in LA county, 50% of the population of 10 million speaks English. That means 50% do not. The other remarkable thing was that the consensus among world health experts is that the chance of a pandemic involving HN51 is 100%. Yes, that is correct. Most likely not this flu season, but the next.

But it was the keynote speaker that really got my attention. Dr. Lucy Jones is a celebrity of sorts in LA as the region’s top earthquake expert. Her review of the last “big one” in 1857 involving the San Andreas fault, the impact that such a quake would have today in LA, the simulations showing where shaking would occur at what magnitude, the fact that the big one is over 100 years past due–well, I am not a fraidy cat but I have to admit to seriously thinking about running out and getting on the first plane back to safe Seattle. Of course, when I got back to Seattle, the news was about the earthquake near Mt Rainier and whether that was a sign of volcanic activity. Back to LA.

The message for me clearly was preparation. For the first time, I am getting serious about some flu preparations for my two companies. The first step and most important, is to make certain that we can work as a team without being together in the office. The likelihood is that we will stay home–in part to deal with family at home, but mostly to limit social contact. We will be a telecommuting company. And since we are in the crisis communication business, including helping businesses stay in touch with their employees, it is critical that we keep operation, keep our technologies operating, keep ourselves healthy and be available for those who will desperately need us.

What are you doing to get ready?

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One Response to “Disaster Planning in LA”

  1. Wahine Says:

    Great post.

    Several months ago, I got a wake up call reading a post on “Making Light” – (written by a married couple that work as editors over at TOR Books). One of their friends, science fiction writer Jim McDonald, recommended this post here: http://misia.livejournal.com/932116.html – and goes into more detail back on Making Light here – http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007169.html. It’s all about building a flu emergency pack. We went out and started buying enough for two.


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