by Chris Pardee | December 01, 2014
Identify trusted sources of information and develop contacts in the health field.

Develop a response plan to deal with any situations that could arise from the health threat.

Regularly review the plans and ensure that all parties understand their roles.

Communicate relevant health risks and related precautions to attendees in simple but accurate messages.
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The following checklist was prepared by Chris Pardee, manager of health intelligence at iJET International, based in Annapolis, Md.

Be Informed
Identify trusted sources of information that can provide timely and accurate assessments of health threats.

Note that outbreaks in other countries could potentially affect your event via rapid international air travel, and that many diseases have lengthy incubation periods.

Develop contacts among biosurveillance, public health and emergency response/hospital communities to whom you can turn for informational or logistical support.

Develop a Plan of Action

Ensure that security, medical officers and other stakeholders remain aware of current health threats that could affect your event.

Develop a comprehensive plan to respond to a variety of public health challenges of different severity. High-profile or recurring threats, such as Ebola or influenza, might warrant dedicated preparedness plans.

Work with local, state and national authorities to integrate your plans into wider preparedness and response activities. Make sure staff leaders understand any reporting obligations.

Forge partnerships with hospitals and like-minded organizations near your event. Make sure you understand the specializations or emergency capabilities of local health-care facilities in order to send injured or sick individuals to the most qualified center.  

Ensure that all staff have ready access to necessary supplies or equipment, such as cleaning supplies, to deal with potential health incidents during an event. Note that bleach is generally sufficient to disinfect most common health threats.  

Stock N95 respirators and nitrile gloves for use when dealing with potentially infectious people or materials, and ensure that any staff member who might be called on to use such items is trained in the correct way to do so.

Ensure that all plans are regularly reviewed to reflect changes in the health-threat landscape, in venue or location, and in personnel structure. Make sure no single point of failure exists in any part of your plan.

Exercise plan activations regularly so that all participants understand their roles and responsibilities. Make sure to include personnel from local, state or national authorities with whom the other participants will interact.

Reduce Anxiety for Attendees
Develop effective communication techniques to reduce attendee anxiety during high-profile health challenges.

Consider generating or obtaining prepared communications for expected health risks to ensure that outreach can begin quickly and that messages are accurate.  

During a health crisis, easily digestible risk and prevention messages should be posted in high-traffic areas to maximize visibility for attendees. Consider providing print and/or electronic handouts to attendees as they enroll in your event or register at the venue.

Ensure that attendees have ready access to simple protective tools, such as automatic hand-sanitizer dispensers. Be prepared to provide other supplies, such as face masks, as necessary or as requested.  

Consider encouraging a "no handshakes" policy in high-risk settings. Rarely can an infectious disease pass through the skin to infect a person, but significant risk may exist that a handshake could deposit infectious particles on a person's hand, which could then be inadvertently introduced into the eyes, nose or mouth to infect that person.