By Patricia Olinger
We in this industry are Microbial Warriors™. While we may not recognize it, each day we respond to situations that involve biological or infectious disease agents.
The worst pandemic in modern history was the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed tens of millions of people. Today, with how interconnected the world is, it would spread faster. —Bill GatesExperts warn that we are not ready to keep the United States—and the world—safe from the next pandemic. Global health experts such as former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden, philanthropist Bill Gates, and former World Health Organization Director Dr. Margaret Chan have expressed concern that not enough is being done to prepare for a disease outbreak, leaving our worldwide community vulnerable. The current system for responding to infectious diseases is defective.*
ISSA and GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) have recognized the need for change and believe it can be achieved by working together and, therefore, established a merger of the organizations.
“ISSA and GBAC have come together to make the world a safer, healthier, and better place,” says John Barrett, executive director of ISSA. “The merger clearly complements ISSA’s mission to change the way the world views cleaning and advance the professionalism of the cleaning industry.”
Those in the cleaning profession have an essential role in this mission. We are the frontline specialists asked to clean, sanitize, and disinfect areas where infectious diseases, beyond bloodborne pathogens, might be present. Being trained to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from these events helps us all become successful Microbial Warriors.
Our vendors and manufacturers have a critical role in this mission as well. They come forward with innovative ideas and solutions that make our jobs more effective and efficient. Working collectively, we can improve how we react to infectious diseases and create a world that is not only healthy but also thriving.
Who is GBAC?
Now a division of ISSA, GBAC started from a conversation among individuals with backgrounds in biosafety/infection control, forensic restoration, and bio-decontamination/remediation and cleaning. This conversation identified gaps within those industries and that, through collaboration, those gaps could be closed.
Why do we need GBAC?
By learning from each other, we can continue to increase our knowledge and skills to improve how we respond to potential biological threats and dangers in our increasingly integrated world. We can provide a critical service in global public health preparedness to make the world a better place. This is the mission of GBAC.
What will GBAC do for you?
To help set you apart from your competitors, over the next year, ISSA-GBAC will be rolling out new training and certifications, company accreditations, licensing programs, and special projects with which you can become involved.
A series of articles in this and other ISSA publications will introduce you to GBAC and members of its Scientific Advisory Board. These articles also will discuss our services, such as GBAC educational events, which you can attend to learn more about GBAC standards and technical field guides.
Join GBAC Scientific Advisory Board members (including me) at the inaugural “ISSA-GBAC Bio-Response Fundamentals” training at the ISSA Show in November. There you can become a designated GBAC Forensic Restoration Technician and learn about other GBAC programs such as Certified Forensic Operator training, Rapid Response, and more.
Check out the GBAC website at gbac.org to become familiar with our board members, connect with us on Facebook, and ask us questions. We are here to serve you and our community.
I am honored and excited to be your ISSA-GBAC executive director. There is so much for us do, and I believe that together we will accomplish our mission!
*Walsh, Bryan. “The World Is Not Ready for the Next Pandemic.” Time. May 15, 2017.
Patricia (Patty) Olinger, JM, RBP, CFO, CBFRS, is the executive director of GBAC and has led EHS and biosafety teams in healthcare, academia, and pharma. An international expert in the development and implementation of BioRisk management programs, including educational programs, she has a true passion for global public health preparedness, response, and recovery relating to emerging infectious diseases.