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Communication key to businesses beating bird flu

Communication key to businesses beating bird flu

Businesses attending an emergency management forum in Tauranga today identified communication as the critical factor in maintaining business continuity during a possible bird flu outbreak.

The forum organised by the Sustainable Business Network was held to capture business knowledge gained from the May 18 flood event in the city so that it could be used to prepare businesses better for future emergencies, including a possible flu pandemic. Two workshop group sessions at the forum produced similar results. Both stated that looking after personal and family safety was the number one priority for business people, while also agreeing that having a communication plan in place was vital for businesses to continue to operate.

Regional manager for the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), Calum Revfem said it was an ideal time revisit the recent flood event in the city and document the lessons learned, so that things can be done better in future emergencies. “There are some useful similarities between the flood event and a flu pandemic, the one obvious difference is that a flu pandemic will take more than a few days to clean up and we will be operating in an emergency mode for a long period”.

The forum provided businesses with a two-minute self assessment test for their level of emergency preparedness. On a scale of one to ten only two businesses scored above six. A survey carried out by SBN has revealed that less than 10% of businesses have any form of emergency action plan in place to cope with a flu pandemic. That is of concern to SBN with a recent BNZ economic review stating that a bird flu outbreak could force businesses to cope with 30% revenue shocks and staff no-show rates as high as 50%. SBN suggest that the only possible explanation for the low level of preparedness by businesses could be the isolation factor for New Zealand and the wide variation in information about the impacts of a pandemic.

The forum included presentations from IAG Insurance, the event sponsor and a presentation from Tauranga City Council’s flood recovery manager Terry Wynyard. The Council received positive comments from both IAG and the Insurance Council of New Zealand in the way it managed the emergency situation caused by the May 18 flood.

Information collected from the forum is going to presented on the SBN website to assist businesses in preparing emergency actions plans. The information will be available on Monday.

ENDS.

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