From Governor Mark Parkinson’s Capitol Blog
Guest Blog--Major General Tod BuntingKansas Adjutant General/Kansas Division of Emergency Management Director
August 17, 2009
As the adjutant general and director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management, I often think about worse case scenarios. Some might say I think about this too much, but it’s the best way I know to ensure we do everything possible to be ready for anything nature, a terrorist or both might throw our way on any given day.
Recently, Governor Mark Parkinson asked my agency to walk all of the cabinet leadership through a scenario for a severe flu season with the H1N1 virus, which unfortunately may happen this fall.
The cabinet meeting, held at the Eisenhower Center for Homeland Security Studies here at the Adjutant General’s Department in Topeka, was to ensure everyone in state leadership thoroughly considers the impact of H1N1 on their agency staff and that their critical functions will still be performed, despite a potential reduction of workers.
Our priority is first and foremost to save lives and the best way we can accomplish this is anticipating the challenges ahead. We understand essential services support quality of life, healthy people and healthy communities, so we must do what we can to minimize the impact on those and to restore them once affected.
So, in the cabinet meeting, we posed a worst case scenario with H1N1 impacting state government’s ability to function as a result of sick workers. It forced leadership to think through the ripple effects the virus could have on staffing, especially as schools or daycares close, family members become ill, and/or the state’s health care system has an influx of patients. Our first responders and private industry partners will likely be hit equally as hard, challenged to provide critical supplies like food or emergency response with possibly 40 percent of their staff not available. Who will step in to fill these essential services?
Walking through these worst case situations forced us to consider the tough questions and establish plans for addressing any unresolved issues. It’s certainly not the first time we’ve thought through these items, as the state has been planning for the possibility of pandemic flu for many years, but it was a critical reminder to everyone of what challenges we face as we move closer to what could be a very tough year ahead.
Kansas leadership is committed to doing what it takes to keep the public informed so everyone can make the best decisions for themselves and their families. And we’re committed to doing everything possible to protect the public’s health and save lives.
We know there is a lot of work ahead of us, but we’ve planned for this very thing. Now we ask all Kansans to do the same. Stay informed about H1N1 so you’ll know what actions you and your family must take to protect your health. If you don’t have an emergency kit, with enough water, food and medicines for each member of your family to sustain themselves for several days, now is the time to make one. Think about what would happen to your family, your workplace, your world if you or one of your family were sick or worse, then plan accordingly.
We must all get ready for this great challenge to minimize its impact and that will make us better prepared for all emergencies, not just H1N1.
Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting