US: Swine flu provides a test of employers’ crisis plans
Posted: May 5th, 2009 - 1:28pm
A growing number of companies that dispatch employees around the world have developed formal crisis plans that include enhanced ability to know where their people are at any given time. These plans were put to the test last week when the World Health Organization warned that swine flu was spreading with efficiency among humans and appearing in an increasing number of countries, even though the fatality rate was small.
Except in a few outbreaks of panic here and there, the response from the business travel industry has been measured and prudent. That is in some part because of corporate crisis plans, many of which were developed after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the SARS outbreak in 2003, and refined afterward.
The business travel world was on top of this outbreak almost from the start, using sophisticated technological and information-sharing links among companies, crisis management firms and health, government and travel industry sources. For example, companies with good crisis plans could adjust corporate travel polices and provide reliable information on the disease outbreak, and quickly find their people on the road.
“Now you can know where everyone is, where they’re going to go, and even more importantly, where they’ve been,” said Myles Druckman, the vice president for medical services at International SOS, a global crisis response company that has hundreds of corporations as clients.
Epidemiology includes medical response, of course. But it also involves scientific sleuthing, and a worldwide locator service for traveling employees can be a kind of paper trail.