Don't Wait for Disaster

In the end, the planning will help the IT department become stronger because it will be more aligned with the business and more agile with enhanced work-at-home capabilities, Klahn adds.

"The reality for us, as a company, is that this type of broad planning just increases our capabilities to serve our customers and employees in the long run," he says.

Officials in Orange County, Fla., also expect a long-term payoff in preparing for a pandemic, which is part of the county's comprehensive emergency management strategy. The county's pandemic planning group includes emergency medical service agencies, hospitals and other community organizations that would respond in the event of an outbreak. The group considers issues such as how to continue services that can't be provided remotely.

"Even if we don't have a pandemic, the planning and infrastructure will serve us well no matter what the emergency is," says Dave Freeman, Orange County health and medical disaster coordinator and manager of the county office of emergency medical services.

"The most important element is the planning process itself. It brings together community partners working toward a common goal," Freeman adds. "As you do this consistently, your overall capability becomes more robust because people are used

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to working with each other.

You become much more adaptable no matter what the event is."

This was first published in December 2006

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