Responding to swine flu

By on 24/07/2009 in Blog, News

steveg_smallWith the Local Government Association hosting a briefing in the Council House today, Steve Grogan, Head of Birmingham City Council's Resilience Team gives an overview of the swine flu response.

Unless you've been living in a darkened room over the past few months, you'll know that the biggest single news story of recent months - with the possible exception of Michael Jackson - has been swine flu.

Switch on any TV or radio news bulletin and I'll bet you the pandemic comes up within the first three or four stories. Some of the coverage is factual and sensible, some is sensationalist and irresponsible.

Much of the early national focus was here in Birmingham and we had to respond quickly to the demands of this pandemic.

As the head of Birmingham's resilience team, it's my job to cut through the half truths and co-ordinate the City Council's response based on the facts.

It probably makes sense to provide a bit of background here. This pandemic, traced to an alleged outbreak among swine in Mexico, has defied all the planning assumptions we were working to.

That said, we were not caught on the hop, because here at Birmingham City Council we have been preparing for a pandemic for a number of years, working with our colleagues, particularly within the NHS and other emergency services.

We've held regular exercises, putting our plans to the test, and these exercises are ongoing.

But of course preparation can only take you so far and then you then have to respond to whatever set of circumstances is thrown your way.

That's exactly what we've done here in Birmingham. A group of tactical level officers ensures the day-to-day co-ordination of our response and we've quickly found solutions to a number of issues thrown up by this outbreak.

Today's LGA briefing allows us to share with our local government colleagues what we have done here in Birmingham. We'll look at the lessons learned and suggest how councils should respond if, as is widely predicted, the second wave of this pandemic occurs in the autumn.

Public information statement about swine flu: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/swine-flu.bcc

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