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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 24, 2008

University updates pandemic influenza response plan

The University of Iowa has released an updated version of its Pandemic Influenza Response Plan with the recommendation that emergency planning efforts should be standardized and expanded to meet a broad range of threats.

"As we saw during the floods this summer, a consistent, unified response to an emergency is critical in leading our communities through the preparation and recovery phases of any disaster," said University Hygienic Laboratory Director Chris Atchison, who chaired the task force charged with developing the pandemic plan. "Many of the people who led the flood response had been involved in the development of the pandemic plan and have told us how the pandemic preparations helped them carry out their flood responsibilities."

The revised plan utilizes the standardized emergency-planning framework developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) known as the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

"The more than 100 individuals from the university and response agencies who helped develop the pandemic plan have observed how an emergency response requires the university to organize its activities in different ways from normal operations. Using the NIMS structure will allow the university to quickly prioritize and coordinate any emergency response with local, state and national officials," Atchison said.

The original pandemic plan was completed in June 2006 at the request of then UI Provost Michael Hogan. This updated version was completed in October 2008 and includes an organizational chart and position descriptions that assign emergency management functions to departments and agencies. It is believed that this version of the plan represents one of the most comprehensive public health emergency plans now in place in an academic setting.

The UI pandemic plan was used to develop a national template for colleges and universities to use in developing their own plans. It is available online at

The University Hygienic Laboratory is part of the University of Iowa and is the state of Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory. The UHL is the designated laboratory for the Iowa Neonatal Metabolic Screening Program, with facilities located on the Oakdale Campus in Iowa City and at the Iowa Lab Facilities in Ankeny, a Des Moines suburb. Among its many services, the laboratory functions as a consultative and analytical support facility for state agencies, health professionals and citizens. The UHL performs analyses on samples from virtually all matrices, including human clinical specimens, air, drinking water, wastewater, soil, sediment, industrial effluents, oil and fish.

Additional information about UHL, its programs and services is available online at

STORY SOURCE: University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,