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HEARD ON THE BEAT / HEALTH CARE

Disaster Preparedness Simply Good Business

June 19, 1996|BARBARA MARSH | Barbara Marsh covers health care for The Times

Bergen Brunswig Corp. doesn't go after awards for emergency preparedness for its, er, health.

The giant, Orange-based supplier of drugs and medical supplies--a two-time winner of the Orange County Red Cross award for disaster planning--has a hard-nosed business reason for earning that distinction.

Steve Harrold, the company's director of corporate security, said that hospital customers increasingly require suppliers like Bergen Brunswig to demonstrate their disaster preparedness. Hospitals are under pressure from accrediting agencies to prove they can quickly mobilize to handle victims of earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters--and need suppliers who can ensure emergency deliveries in a pinch, he said.

Bergen Brunswig, this year's award winner among dozens of local companies, schools and state agencies that entered the contest, also won two years ago, Harrold said. The Orange County Cities Emergency Management Organization co-sponsors the competition.

Harrold said the company devotes one day a year for emergency drills and related activities for all of its 5,000 employees. On a recent day, the company brought in 19 high school students to volunteer as disaster victims--nearly double the number a year ago.

"We had more sophisticated drills. We had more 'fatalities,' " Harrold said.

Barbara Marsh can be reached at (714) 966-7762 and at barbara.marsh@latimes.com.

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