[LINK] Pandemic pandemonium

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Wed Jun 10 10:30:29 EST 2009

At 10:30 AM 8/06/2009, Jan Whitaker wrote:
>At 09:20 PM 7/06/2009, Tom Worthington wrote:
>>In a major emergency, such as a pandemic, all that the authorities 
>>can provide to the community is advice. ...
>I don't think the website distribution was at all the problem. The 
>problem IS ... simplify the system, perhaps with a central point of contact ...

The federal government is offering a central telephone number. 
However, I suggest a web based service would be a useful supplement, 
for more detailed information and when the phone service becomes overloaded.

>Not everyone has web access. Stressed mothers with sick kids should
>not be expected to 'log on' ...

There are not sufficient medical staff to talk individually to 
everyone in Australia who might have to deal with the flu. A well 
designed interactive multimedia web site would be better than 
listening to a recorded telephone message, or talking to a 
non-medically qualified call center operator who is reading from a 
script on their screen.

>... the anecdotal stories like the one David pointed to are still a worry. ...

The story was useful in illustrating a mindset which needs to be 
changed: that there is someone I can phone to fix my problem for me. 
Health professionals do not have the time, nor are they equipped, to 
explain how to deal with swine flu to each individual in Australia. 
In the event of a pandemic, medical services will only be available 
to the most seriously ill, everyone else will have to be cared for by 
family and volunteers.

>... There must be a system for updating those who are taking the 
>calls when the rules change. ...

My suggestion is to provide the same information to the general 
public directly via the web, as those taking the calls in call 
centers have. The web can be used for providing much more detailed 
information, using multimedia, on preventing illness, recognizing and 
treating it.

I made some suggestions for the Australian Government Swine Flu 
Outbreak Web Information at: 

More technical details are in a previous presentation on Avian 
Influenza Pandemic: <http://www.tomw.net.au/2005/wd/sahana3.shtml>.

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University  

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