According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the recent outbreak of the Ebola Virus – the world’s largest Ebola outbreak – has claimed more than 3,800 lives with confirmed cases in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and the United States.
The death of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. has sparked fear around the country as people are now acutely aware of how quickly and easily a disease running rampant in West Africa can spread around the globe, and how potentially deadly the virus is.
While the nation prepares to control the spread of Ebola through increased travel screening measures, hospital preparations, and even the possible closing of borders, you need to make sure your organization is prepared to respond to a widespread domestic Ebola outbreak.
Here are four things that your organization needs to do to prepare for a widespread Ebola outbreak in the U.S.:
1. Adopt a targeted response plan
Have a specific strategy in place that addresses a widespread pandemic (perhaps build off of your plans from H1N1). Make sure that the strategy includes effective forms of communication with your employees, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders so that if an outbreak is detected, you can immediately get and stay in contact with everyone before the disease has a chance to spread further.
An Alerting Service like that provided by Send Word Now can provide fast, reliable and two-way communication with targeted audiences, including management, department heads, crisis response teams and others.
2. Assess worker health
It is crucial that you and your colleagues stay informed about the symptoms and spreading of Ebola. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of Ebola include:
• Fever (higher than 101.5 degrees)
• Severe headache
• Muscle pain
• Abdominal pain
• Unexplained hemorrhage
The disease is not airborne, but is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected patient (alive or deceased) either through direct contact or through contaminated objects (like syringes). Symptoms do not appear immediately, but rather, may take two days to three weeks to manifest.
Being on the lookout for the symptoms of Ebola is an important step in preventing the spread of the disease. And, making such information available through an inbound message board, or IVR, associated with your emergency notification service is ideal for improved enterprise-wide awareness.
3. Address remote working policies
While you may not typically allow staff to work from home, a widespread health threat in your area may be a cause for altering this policy. Take steps now to prepare employees to work from remote locations in the event of an epidemic to reduce the loss of company productivity.
Just as important, provide status updates on a regular basis, so that they know when it is not only safe, but also expected, for them to return to the premises.
4. Alter travel policies
Although many of your employees may travel for work regularly, limiting travel during a widespread pandemic will help reduce the likelihood that your employees could contract the virus. Public transportation, particularly in airports, is a prime location for the spread of disease. Limiting travel is a simple step that greatly reduces the risk of exposure.
Take full advantage of conference calling to keep people connected and operations intact.
To help managers think through these Ebola-related issues and how emergency notification technology can support critical communications needs and requirements, Send Word Now is offering a free special report: Outlasting the Outbreak. Download it now for useful tips on making sure that your organization is prepared for an Ebola pandemic in the U.S.