Business Preparation for an Influenza Pandemic
North Carolina Medical Journal
n fall 2005, the Department of Homeland Security identified the electric industry as a key component of the national infrastructure and requested that utilities, including Progress Energy, prepare an emergency response plan for a pandemic. While our company has experience with and continually refines its plans to respond to hurricanes, ice storms, and other natural disasters, putting together our flu pandemic plan proved to be a long process and forced us to address issues that had not arisen
... at had not arisen in storm situations. For example, natural disasters destroy infrastructure. Our employees pull together to ensure our customers get service restored as soon as possible. Many employees stop doing their regular daily jobs and take on specific storm jobs to ensure we can meet our customers' needs quickly. In planning for a flu pandemic, though, the scenario is much different. Rather than destroying infrastructure, a pandemic has much more human impact and little if any effect on infrastructure. A flu pandemic incident is outside of our experience. Instead of bringing our employees together, as we are used to in storm events, a flu pandemic could push our employees apart, with many being unable to come to work. Whatever the effects of such an occurrence, it is critical that electric utilities and other industries, such as banking and transportation, be prepared to continue providing society's essential needs during a pandemic. Progress Energy took a hard look at its emergency and business continuity plans and determined that we needed to start fresh in looking at our pandemic plan. We learned some very important lessons during this process, and we believe we have developed a robust, comprehensive plan that will ensure we take care of our customers and our employees. Involve Everyone We formed a Pandemic Working Group, made up of departments throughout the company, including: ■ Health & safety ■ Power plant operations (nuclear and fossil) ■ Transmission This group met frequently for many months to develop our corporate-wide flu pandemic plan along with plans for their individual departments. Having this many groups involved helped us identify enterprise-wide gaps and develop solutions for our company as a whole.