Pandemic Planning

Issue 11 and Volume 161.

By KEVIN MULROONEY With concerns ranging from terrorism to coastal storms, many fire departments consider a pandemic a thing of the past. Although avian flu fears have yet to transpire, a considerable pandemic risk remains. Pandemics occur naturally; some historians suggest they occur roughly every 100 years. The last major United States pandemic was the Spanish flu in 1917. Smaller outbreaks occurred in 1958 and 1968, affecting almost 30 percent of the world population. The year 2017 marks 100 years since the Spanish flu pandemic, so there is considerable urgency for us to prepare. In 1917, we didn’t have connecting global airline flights, multiple passenger ship terminals dotting our coastlines, or anywhere near the mobility we have today. A disease that took three weeks to circle the world in 1917 may well travel in several hours today with predicted potential to affect some eight million people worldwide. Of course, we…

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