UW-Madison: Conference To Advise Businesses On Pandemic Preparation

CONTACT: Vicki Bier, (608) 262-2064, [email protected]

MADISON – Although the last flu pandemic occurred several decades ago, more recent threats have spurred federal and state pandemic planning and response activities. If a pandemic or similar catastrophe occurs, businesses will play an integral part not only in protecting their employees’ health, but also in providing essential community services such as food, water and power.

A conference on Thursday, Oct. 12, “Surviving the Pandemic,” is designed to help representatives from small- and medium-sized companies and nonprofit organizations assess their levels of preparedness and begin to develop their own company-specific plans.

“The conference is a way to get this information into the hands of small businesses in a form that’s friendly to them,” says co-organizer Vicki Bier, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Center for Human Performance and Risk Analysis. “They’ll learn practical steps they can take now, and how to get the planning process started.”

Christopher Lindell, vice president for shared services at Alliant Energy Corp., states, “Waiting for an outbreak to occur before pandemic flu planning begins is like waiting for an accident to occur before buying insurance. It’s too late. A pandemic flu outbreak will not discriminate and would likely have significant financial and workforce impacts on businesses large and small.”

Conference highlights include “Influenza 101,” in which Christopher Olsen, a professor in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, will discuss the basics of influenza and how pandemic viruses emerge. In “Pandemic 101,” Tom Haupt of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services will talk about the effects of a pandemic and the role of public health and governmental agencies. Bill Scott of Great Lakes Education Loan Services Inc. will present “Continuity Planning 101,” in which conference participants will learn why they should have continuity plans and what questions such plans should address. In addition, breakout sessions will address logistics and supply-chain disruptions, the psychological effects of a pandemic, human relations and personnel issues, and how to sustain families through a pandemic.

The conference will be held from 8:15 a.m.-4:45 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Exhibition Hall of the Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison. For program information, visit http://www.chpra.wisc.edu/pandemic06.php, or contact Lesley Klein at (608) 262-2064. To register, visit http://www.peopleware.net/2723, or call (608) 263-1672. Registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 2.

Experts will be available for media interviews prior to the conference, and during the conference from 7:30-8 a.m., 12:30-1 p.m. and 4:30-5 p.m. Contact Lesley Klein (afternoons only) at (608) 263-7456 to schedule interviews.

Conference sponsors include Alliant Energy Corp.; American Family Insurance; Madison Area Technical College; the Southeast Wisconsin Homeland Security Partnership Inc.; the UW-Madison Center for Human Performance and Risk Analysis; and the UW-Madison Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy. The conference is also endorsed by the UW-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs, the Dane County Department of Emergency Management, and Public Health of Madison and Dane County.