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Building an emergency plan : a guide for museums and other cultural institutions / Valerie Dorge; Sharon L Jones 1999


Written for museums, with museum examples, this is nevertheless a good guide on how to develop an emergency plan. It assumes a greater degree of autonomy than may typically be found in an archive in an academic or government setting. The first section is written for the Director who must convince the trustees that Emergency Planning is necessary and must be supported, who may contact others in the community for support, and must promote and encourage staff support within the institution. The second part discusses the roles of the emergency team members and leaders. The third part discusses the roles of each team. It emphasizes communication both during planning for an emergency, but during the actual emergency itself. It also emphasizes team work and involvement of all staff, including janitorial and security staff if possible.

Detailed Notes

Part III in the book is discussed first here in this summary. Part III discusses the details concerning each team, but their overall responsibilities are very similar in outline and differ only in details.

Part III for Teams

Four teams should be developed: Each team should develop 2 reports. Report one essentially reviews the vulnerabilities and assets, and should recommend proposals to prevent limit damage as much as possible. Report two should list the response procedures for each committee in case of an emergency.

  1. Safety and Security Team
  2. Collections Team
  3. Buildings Team
  4. Administration/Records Team

Establish teams

  1. Based on skills, technical and functional abilities, problem solving, and interpersonal relations. Teams should ideally be no more than 5 people per team
  2. Outline the team’s responsibilities and duties
  3. Identify team leaders and alternatives in case the leader is unavailable

Interact with other teams

  1. Make sure everyone knows who is on each team, and who is responsible for what
  2. Hold individual team meetings to discuss issues for that team only
  3. Hold joint team meetings so everyone is aware of what the others are doing, and to pool resources
  4. Hold “thinking” drills. Have people close their eyes and talk through what they would do if xyz happened
  5. Hold real drills with a twist. During a fire drill, blindfold people to see how they could do at night with no electricity, block off a stairwell, fake a broken leg, or add some other difficulty that may occur during a real emergency.
  6. Invite experts in for talks and training. Get expert advice on flooding, potential structural problems, etc.

Report One: Prevention and preparation:

  1. Survey current situation / collections / building
  2. Evaluate current situation for vulnerabilities and potential problems
  3. Contact others for advice and support (local emergency services, other cultural institutions, etc.)
  4. Recommend protective measures and procedures to undertake before the emergency

Report Two: Responsibilities during emergency

  1. Identify
    1. Safety and Security: How will you keep people safe? How will you keep collections safe?
    2. Collections: Identify priorities within the collection (save Rare books before Newspapers)
    3. Building: are there any potentially dangerous locations? Such as chemical storage, structural problems
    4. Administration / Records: identify records which will be essential for successful recovery
  2. Develop immediate response plan with step-by-step procedures to follow as soon as an emergency occurs (what to do when discover a a burst pipe)
  3. Develop long-term recovery procedures to implement after the immediate emergency has passed (how to handle wet books)
  4. Create fact-sheets and maps (contact list, flow chart, “how to …”)
  5. Stock emergency supplies and equipment
  6. Establish routines to keep plan visible and ensure it stays updated
  7. Identify and implement training for all staff

Part I for Directors

Introduction Emergencies: earthquakes, bombings, floods, fire, hurricanes, war, volcanoes More likely localized and caused by human activity Most time consuming and costly requirement in preparing plan is staff participation

Four protection measures

  1. Prevention – eliminate hazards
  2. Preparedness – train staff, have supplies on hand and contact information
  3. Response – quick and safe response: evacuations,
  4. Recovery – procedures to get back to normal

Emergency mode:

  1. Organization – setting up base of operations, communications, etc.
  2. People – training staff, contacting experts, dealing with volunteers
  3. Collections – damage assessments, supplies, etc.

Role of the Director p. 28 – Is your institution prepared – questionnaire

  1. set institution wide emergency preparedness policy. Explain why a plan is important, state goals of the plan, encourage participants in teams, and everyone to participate in training and exercises
  2. Appoint Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC) based on job responsibilities (administration, systems, collections, conservation) and skills (technical, problem solving, interpersonal) and whenever possible, someone who has been through an emergency or emergency prepardness
    1. EPM: Emergency Preparedness Manager – administrative, guiding committee through the process of preparing the plan, familiar with institution and oversee outreach effort
    2. ERC: Emergency Response Coordinator – take charge in an emergency. Should be calm in an emergency! Should have authority to dispense petty cash or authorize expenditures
    3. EPM and ERC may be the same person, may be the director
    4. Should have one back-up person in case the designated person is not available
  3. Involve institution’s trustees
    1. Discuss need for plan – safety of staff and materials
    2. Requirements for plan – additional resources such as people, equipment, and funds
    3. Community support in case of an emergency
  4. Establish a budget
    1. Develop draft budget
    2. Prevention is most cost-effective phase of plan
    3. Funds for training and staff time and supplies
    4. Annual maintenance budget should be minimal
  5. Contact others for advice and support
    1. local colleagues
    2. local emergency officials
    3. other libraries and museums
    4. national library and museum organizations
  6. Involve community and news media
    1. advertise planning taking place
    2. spokesperson in case of an emergency
  7. Immediate steps to take
    1. Establish chain of command
    2. Practice good housekeeping
    3. Lead clean-up effort
    4. Collect emergency numbers and addresses
    5. Gather supplies
    6. Prepare records (duplicate sets of important documents
    7. Make contact lists
    8. Compile fact sheets (how to turn on generator, how to shut off gas)
    9. Duplicate keys
    10. Investigate free services (first aid and emergency training)
    11. Network with local emergency officials and other local cultural institutions
    12. Make money accessible – keep petty cash on hand, set-up credit cards for key staff members

Part II for Emergency Preparedness Managers

Role of the EPM: Emergency Preparedness Manager

  1. Contact others for advice and support
    1. Contact local emergency officials for support and establishing communications.
    2. Local fire department, hospitals and ambulances, military, police, Red Cross, civil defense department
  2. Designate responsibility and provide support
    1. Effective EPC: Emergency Preparedness Committee
      1. Director should appoint EPC Committee teams
      2. Set regular meetings, goals, and deadlines.
      3. Publicize progress of team internally
      4. Establish training and drills
    2. Generate essential documents
      1. Emergency Preparedness Policy – statement of purpose and goals and objectives
      2. Contact list
      3. Draft budget
    3. Appoint departmental preparedness teams
      1. Specifics according to size and organization of institution
      2. Safety/Security, Collections, Buildings, Administration/Records
      3. No more than 5 people per team, 1 backup leader
      4. Communications coordinator to communicate between teams, all staff and volunteers, and EPM and Director
  3. Appoint departmental preparedness teams
  4. Appoint a communications coordinator

Role of the EPC: Emergency Preparedness Committee

  1. Assess the hazards
    1. Identify potential emergencies
      1. Natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes)
      2. Industrial disasters (electrical power failure, water supply failure, structural fire)
      3. Accidents (broken fuel or water pipes, downed electrical lines)
      4. Human impact (vandalism, arson, bombing, warfare, riots)
    2. Identify potential damage from emergencies
      1. Architectural (roof, foundation, windows)
      2. Fire and heat-related (smoke and soot)
      3. Water damage
      4. Structural failure (can cause water, sewer, power and fuel line breaks)
      5. Chemical (smoke, chemical spills, fuel lines)
      6. Human impact – safety of humans primary, if injuries, additional staff will be needed to care for injured. Additional damage to materials by handling objects
    3. Distribute the hazard assessment report
  2. Identify assets and vulnerabilities
    1. Assign department preparedness teams to survey assets and vulnerabilities
      1. Human safety primary priority
      2. Assets: building, collections, records, equipment, furnishings
      3. Vulnerabilities: potential water leaks, building structure from structural engineer
      4. Review insurance policies, description of collections
    2. Departmental teams roles
      1. Prepare 2 reports for each area: Safety/Security, Collections, Buildings, Administration/Records
        1. Report 1 is prevention / preparation
        2. Report 2 outlines responsibilities during an emergency
  3. Implement preventive measures as identified by departmental teams as well as any other measures that arise out of planning, especially as relates to the area (if in floodplain research how high the water may get)
  4. Implement preparedness measures
    1. Training
    2. Inventory
    3. Copies of important documents
    4. Have supplies on hand
  5. Develop response plan
    1. Appoint response teams
    2. Compile emergency procedures handout (step-by-step instructions. What to do in case of…)
    3. Compile and write response plan
  6. Develop recovery procedures
    1. Compile information from departmental preparedness teams. Guide staff through the cleanup process and minimize further damage to objects
      1. Collections recovery
      2. Data and telecommunications recovery
      3. Financial systems recover
      4. Buildings recovery
    2. Write the recovery plan – who does what and how
  7. Write the emergency plan
    1. Compile the emergency plan
      1. When to activate response procedures, how to communicate with staff.
      2. Needs to be simple, flexible, and realistic. Needs to be tested annually.
      3. Address Prevention, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
      4. Include
        1. Evacuating / relocating staff and public
        2. Evacuating / relocating objects and records
        3. Ensuring staff and visitor safety
        4. Taking security measures
        5. Taking protective measures
        6. Involving administration
        7. Assessing the damage
    2. Write the handbook
      1. Circulate draft among all staff and solicit feedback
      2. Should include policy statement, introduction, summary, evacuation procedures, emergency communications, organizational chart, checklists, fact sheets, on-site supplies, off-site resources, training informaiton

Communications Communcation important from the beginning stages of establishing a plan and getting staff involved to an actual emergency and working with the media and the public.

  1. Focus on building team communications. Encourage open, supportive environment, establish cooperative climate, make clear assignments and set clear expectations, schedule debriefing time (informal talks before or after meetings)
  2. Equip the preparedness teams with proper tools and information
    1. Get experts to meet with committee or give training
    2. Meet with others who have been through and emergency
    3. Videos, photos, and reports from other emergencies
  3. Update staff on the progress
  4. Cultivate contacts with outside agencies
  5. Utilize the media. Advertise that you care enough about your institution and materials to have an emergency plan. Invite media to view emergency drills, have public relations materials on hand
  6. Evaluate equipment needs – what to do when the phone lines are down?
  7. Establish communications procedures
    1. Internal – how to communicate that an emergency has happened, and what staff and public should do – intercom? Signals? Signs?
    2. External – contact police, fire, etc. Telephone numbers and if telephone lines are down. How to let people know the institution is close

Caution: develop code words for emergencies eg don’t use "Code Red"

    1. Set guidelines for working with volunteer emergency workers – clear instructions and supervision, “unglamorous” but necessary help eg answering phones, recognition. Sometimes volunteers can create more problems than they solve – can also say ‘no’
  1. Set guidelines for dealing with Media
    1. Establish rules for handling reporters – no one except the designated person should talk to reports. Staff should be trained to refer reporters to them and not give any information, good or bad to reporters
    2. Know how to create a good news release – what happened, when, where, etc. Steps taking place, have emergency plan which you are following. Do not provide specifics of what was lost or the monetary damage
    3. Learn how to handle interview
  2. Plan for the unexpected – eg telephone system being repaired the same day a disaster happens (have quarters for pay phone on hand!)
  3. Establish communications procedures for recovery
    1. Make information a prioritya.
    2. Build debriefing and counseling sessions into the plan
    3. Evaluate the plan and its execution

Training “According to Red Cross information, people normally operate at about 20 percent of their ability to make decisions during an emergency. Therefore you need to be able to do things in an emergency almost by rote.”

p. 90 Is your staff prepared? Questionnaire to take every year

All staff should participate in training

  1. Carry out a general clean-up. Have a clean-up day, let people wear blue jeans or old clothes, make sure aisle and access to fire extinguishers clear, heavy objects on lower shelves, do not place items directly under water pipes, change surge protectors every 3-4 years
  2. Teach staff to be keen observers and what to do when they see something – dark stain on ceiling indicating water leak, trash left near heading vent, person acting strangely
  3. bring in other experts to teach certain skills – CPR, 1st Aid, fire extinguishers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can calculate the level water is likely to reach in case of a flood, ham radio operators
  4. Conduct a basic fire extinguisher lesson
  5. Expanded fire drills: during a planned fire drill block a stairwell, or fake an injury, or have an employee hide and see if anyone finds them or another typical problem
  6. Test notification system – one day after hours phone staff members at home and ask if it were an emergency, would they be willing to come in and how long would it take them
  7. Train staff in how to handle emergencies at home. With instutional training, include home training. Buy emergency supplies (flashlights, first-aid kits, etc.) in bulk and re-sell to staff at reduced rates
  8. Teach staff how and when to handle objects – can actually do more damage by improper handling.
  9. Make emergency related mental drills a common occurrence. During the meetings discuss scenarios. “What to do if…”
  10. Conduct planned drills – first drill should be short and simple, can increase difficulty as plan developed and teams work together. Make sure drills successful and not failures
  11. Anticipate psychological impact - impact > shock > suggestibility > euphoria > ambivalence > reintegration. Plan for counseling, support groups, formal and informal discussions
  12. Build the team
    1. Select members based on skills, knowledge, and attitudes
    2. Emphasize urgency, direction, and clear rules
    3. Be clear about your expectations of the team
    4. Be aware of your actions
    5. Set immediately achievable goals and tasks
    6. Inject fresh facts and information
    7. Schedule debriefing time
    8. Exploit the power of positive feedback, recognition and reward
  13. Record and critique – keep paperwork of plans and drills and review for suggestions and changes
  14. Evaluate the training program – survey staff to find out how they feel, if they learned anything, improvements to make etc

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