Pandemic Influenza Planning
Guidelines and Response Plan

Revised August 2009

Executive Summary

Colorado State University, in coordination with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment and other state and federal agencies, has to developed comprehensive guidelines for University response to a pandemic flu outbreak. In addition to the formation of overarching Colorado State University Pandemic Flu Planning Guidelines, each vice president and dean at the University was charged to oversee the development of individual response plans for their divisions and colleges. These plans have been incorporated into a comprehensive plan for institutional response and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Importance of Pandemic Planning

An influenza pandemic occurs when three conditions are met: A new influenza virus subtype emerges; the virus infects humans across the globe; and the virus gains efficient and sustainable transmission from human to human.

Pandemic influenza is different from the seasonal influenza with which most Americans are familiar. Seasonal influenza generally peaks between December and March in North America. It causes approximately 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States. A pandemic influenza, in contrast, can occur at any time of the year and resurges in waves; pandemics can last over a year. The normal, seasonal influenza illness rate is 5-10%. In a pandemic, an illness rate of 25-30% is appropriate for planning purposes. Illness rates will be highest among school-aged children and working adults.

As of June 2009, the World Health Organization declared a worldwide pandemic involving the novel H1N1 influenza (formerly called “swine flu”). Fortunately this pandemic has thus far been of mild severity. Most people who have become ill have recovered without requiring medical treatment.

It is expected that all pandemics can have worldwide impact with an unpredictable timeline, spreading quickly from one area to another. Particularly if a severe influenza pandemic occurs, major disruptions are likely for health care, transportation, infrastructure, education, suppliers and other public services. Physical facilities will not be damaged but will need vigilant attention to maintain operation. High absenteeism will affect the delivery of services and goods, nationally and internationally.

Officials and individuals have had a unique opportunity to plan for a pandemic, and thus to mitigate its impact.

The major goals of pandemic planning are:

  • to reduce illness and death;
  • to minimize social disruption and economic losses; and
  • to ensure the University’s ability to continue core and critical functions in the event of a pandemic.

Pandemic Planning at Colorado State University

Emergency preparedness planning is essential because it affords organizations and institutions, including Colorado State University, an opportunity to respond more effectively to a number of emergency situations, including an influenza pandemic. The objectives of effective planning include reducing illness and death, maintaining critical services, minimizing social disruption and reducing economic loss.

Colorado State University has developed pandemic planning guidelines to assist the University community in development of targeted preparedness plans. The University’s former Emergency Management Team began discussing and receiving training on pandemic influenza preparedness in 2006. The Emergency Management Team appointed a sub-group, the Pandemic Planning Team, to specifically develop a plan for pandemic response. That team currently includes the following institutional representatives:

  • Ken Quintana, Pandemic Planning Team Co-Coordinator, Environmental Health Services and Housing and Dining Services
  • Jane Higgins, Pandemic Planning Team Co-Coordinator, CSU Health Network Hartshorn Health Service
  • Guy Arnesen, Housing and Dining Services
  • Steve Hultin, Facilities Management
  • Dell Rae Moellenberg, Public Relations
  • Frank E. Johnson, Assistant Chief of Police
  • Jose Valdes, Associate Director, Telecommunications

This team prepared the draft Pandemic Influenza Planning Guidelines and Response Plan. Working from these guidelines, each CSU division and college, with the oversight of their vice presidents or deans, developed its own response plans, which were merged into a comprehensive response plan for the institution. The Pandemic Influenza Guidelines and Response Plan is a dynamic document, evolving as appropriate when new information and guidelines become available.

The Pandemic Influenza Planning Guidelines summarize key considerations provided by numerous governmental, medical and emergency response agencies, including the U.S. Health and Human Services Pandemic Influenza Plan and the American College Health Association’s Guidelines for Pandemic Planning. These guidelines provide helpful background information on pandemic influenza; they also offer suggestions about the crucial questions that particular entities on a university campus considered as they developed their individual plans. Development and implementation of CSU’s pandemic response plan have been tailored to the needs and functions at Colorado State University; the HHS and American College Health Association planning guidelines were helpful to divisions and colleges as they developed their response plans.

The Colorado State University plan has evolved to include the individual plans for divisions and colleges of the University and will continue to evolve as new information and guidelines are available. In the future, it may also outline planning exercises and debriefing summaries for simulated pandemic scenarios and response. The University has also developed guidelines for communicating directly with students and their families about what to anticipate in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak and how they can prepare.

The comprehensive Colorado State University plan includes the following key elements:

  • Planning for a pandemic event using a traditional business continuity plan model
  • Identifying CSU’s critical services and missions
  • Identifying critical personnel and core skills
  • Identifying a clear chain of command for decision making
  • Understanding the effects on faculty, staff, students, parents, visitors and community
  • Broad and inclusive communications – both internally and externally
  • Targeted communications Implementing appropriate and adequate preparations
  • Training and exercising (pending)
  • Appropriate response actions and recovery processes

Before and during pandemics, Colorado State University will work in close cooperation with the state and local departments of health, local law enforcement agencies, the Fort Collins health care sector, key state agencies and the community. Both within the University and in the larger community, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) will serve as the structure to plan for and manage a pandemic of significant magnitude.

Expectations of CSU Divisions and Colleges

The leadership of all divisions and colleges was instructed to oversee the development of pre-event planning and response plans for their departments and units; the Pandemic Planning Team and the Emergency Management Team were available to assist with plan development.

These plans 1) define critical services, critical personnel and critical supplies, and alternative methods for delivery of services; 2) plan communication modes and messages for use before and during a pandemic; and 3) include education of personnel and students about pandemic influenza and personal risk reduction.

For More Information

The Pandemic Influenza Planning Guidelines and Response Plan (though without the appendices containing the specific plans from divisions and colleges) is available online.

Watch for future updates and announcements via University e-mail channels, in local and campus media, on the Safety Web site and in Today@ColoradoState. People with specific questions may e-mail the Pandemic Flu Planning Committee at

Through emergency preparedness guideline development and planning for pandemics, the university will strive to reduce the impact of a pandemic and enhance the University’s preparedness for all future disasters.