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Freeman Shares Pandemic Plan with Industry
Are you prepared for a pandemic? What if half your employees were either too sick to come to work, or at home taking care of loved ones? How would business be affected, and how would you cope?
Freeman has a comprehensive plan for maintaining business continuity during an avian influenza pandemic, and the company is sharing it with others in their industry. The outline of the plan is on the web site for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE): www.iaee.com. It explains processes without company-specific details, so any business can use it to create its own plan.
Freeman, a national producer of face-to-face events, is constantly looking ahead to determine what might affect its business and customers, and the issue of preparing for a pandemic is no exception. In 1999, the company began to develop its first comprehensive disaster recovery plan after a fire in its Houston operation, and the plan has since been expanded and updated several times. The plan also served Freeman and its 240 New Orleans-based employees well during the 2005 hurricane season, and brought several additional improvements as a result.
Looking forward, the company knows that in the event of a crisis like widespread avian flu, there would be a need to work closely with clients, facilities, other vendors and competitors, in addition to the community and health care services, so Freeman is sharing its plan.
"We hope this is a plan we will never need to implement. However, the more prepared businesses are, the better off everyone will be if needed," said David Klutts, corporate director, risk management services for Freeman.
The most important factor in preparing a business for disaster is communication, according to Klutts. "Effective communication of information eliminates anxiety," Klutts said. "It is important to acknowledge the issue, develop a program and then provide training so employees know what to do. If you don't share the information and turn it into knowledge, it's useless."
Freeman is conducting a company-wide employee training session as part of its ongoing "Star Learning Program" to communicate the critical elements of the continuity plan. By the end of February 2007, every Freeman employee will go through the program, called "Teamwork in Crisis: Are we Ready?", which includes a prepared presentation of the plan, as well as an interactive discussion to allow employees to share questions and concerns.
The crisis plan Freeman has developed covers topics such as why the plan exists, background and characteristics of avian influenza, predictions of the possible impact on business, and examples of teams and duties during progressive stages of a pandemic. A step-by-step process from planning to execution, and of course, communication, the plan even covers information such as hygiene, protective equipment and stress management. It concludes with references for additional information on avian influenza and pandemics.
The business continuity plan can be viewed at www.iaee.com by clicking Information & Resources and then Center for Exhibition Safety and Security.
General information and tips for businesses on handling emergencies and disasters can also be found at www.ready.gov.
Freeman supports the power of face-to-face marketing by providing full-service resources for expositions, corporate events, conventions and exhibit programs from its 26 city locations across North America.
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