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Book Review: Pandemic Influenza Emergency Planning and Community Preparedness

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For those who enjoy science fiction and horror, Stephen KingÌsÜThe Stand paints one of the best pictures of a horrifying flu that devastates the country. Now, the same scenario is portrayed in a non-fiction work validated by science and strategic emergency operation plans.Pandemic Influenza Emergency Planning and Community Preparednessoffers an updated, factual description of the state of the U.S. health-care system and it details the mechanisms, response and preparation needed for a pandemic flu. This comprehensive book covers every aspect of flu, right down to a thorough explanation of virology. Although the concept of virology may deter a reader, the book isnÌt written at a graduate biochemistry level, so youÌll get it.

This book also covers a topic that has received a small amount of attention: the private sector response to a pandemic flu. With just-in-time inventory and point-of-service business models, few organizationsÛprivate or publicÛcarry enough inventory or reserve to sustain themselves or their processes if there were to be a supply interruption or loss of key personnel. What if the EMS agency in your neighborhood lost 40% of its staff and also wasnÌt able to receive a shipment of medical supplies for three months? Chapter 8 focuses on issues of business continuity. A tool called the "priority service continuation determination matrix," as well as multiple Web sites and guides, are provided as possible service solutions.Ü

This book does an excellent job of defining the risk and limits of antiviral medication, although some of the more recent side effects of the antiviral medications on children have been left out of the text.Ü

The response by the federal and international resources is explained, but the book doesnÌt mention what many experts believe: The plan is based on an untested event with inexperienced people who have good intentions.Ü

Planning for pandemic flu is taking a backseat to the financial state of our government, but this book makes every attempt to get the reader to think ahead. This must-read drives home the message with one of the final quotes: "He who fails to plan, plans to fail."ÜJEMS

Bruce Evans,MPA, NREMT-P, is the assistant chief of the North Las Vegas Fire Department and aJEMSeditorial board member.

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