CRANE, Ind. - Representatives from Crane Army Ammunition Activity participated in a Navy hosted one-day, pandemic influenza planning exercise here Sept. 10, along with members from the Navy and the local community.

PANFLUEX 2-08 is part of the regularly scheduled Navy Region Midwest exercise designed to provide facilitated discussions between Naval Support Activity Crane, its tenant commands and local agencies regarding pandemic influenza planning. CAAA Chief of Staff Norman Thomas, Security Manager Leah Clinton and Security Specialist Judy Brown represented Crane Army at the exercise.

According to the U.S. Government Pandemic Flu Web site (, a flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity, and for which there is no vaccine. The disease spreads easily person-to-person, causes serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in very short time.

With so many employees living in the counties surrounding the Crane base, an influenza pandemic would affect everyone both inside and outside its gates. Navy Region Midwest Public Health Emergency Officer Capt. Larry Williams, DC, moderated the exercise and provided to the participants an overview of the virus, how it spreads and the consequences if the United States is unprepared. Once the participants broke down into groups for discussions, Williams guided them by explaining the possible impact on both the Navy base and its surrounding military community.

"What I found most interesting is that the experts are saying 'when' the pandemic flu hits the U.S. - not 'if.' So, it was reassuring that exercises like these are being held in communities all across the country to help prepare for this type of emergency," Clinton said. "It was also reassuring to learn that there will be simple things people will be able to do to drastically reduce their likelihood of getting the pandemic flu, like washing hands and wearing a mask."

While there have been no reported cases of the pandemic influenza on U.S. soil, federal, state and local governments throughout the country are working to ensure they are prepared for the worse. One of the worst recent occurrences of a pandemic flu hit in three waves in the United States throughout 1918-1919. Worldwide that influenza was credited with killing anywhere between 30 and 50 million, with America suffering an estimated 675,000 deaths.

The participants at the exercise hope that through coordinated planning chaos can be minimized and essential services maintained. The prospect of a pandemic flu is frightening, but they know that not being prepared at all levels is even more frightening.

CAAA was established in Oct. 1977 and is a tenant of the Navy Region Midwest, Naval Support Activity Crane. The Army activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components.