Tornado Drill Creates Lessons Learned

Tornado Drill, University of Virginia, March 18, 2008

The University of Virginia (UVa) held a tornado drill, which included our library, on March 18 at 9:45 AM (see this site for more information). The drill had been announced two days before it was scheduled to occur. Overall, our library’s plan functioned well, but the drill definitely served its purpose, as it tested the systems and the knowledge of staff, and effectively showed the areas that need to be improved. Our Library Director held a drill de-briefing meeting this morning, so that we could share information/observations about the exercise and what we need to do to improve our planning and training. Lessons learned from the drill:

–in our library, staff followed procedures for sheltering-in-place. Patrons were given the option to participate in the drill or not, and only one person took shelter with our staff.

–we realized that our shelter-in-place plans need to be clarified so that everyone realizes the differences between sheltering-in-place for tornadoes and sheltering from a biochemical/hazmat situation or an active shooter

–a goal of the drill was that it be completed in 3 minutes. We found that this is adequate time if the overhead PA system is working. However, if power is off when a tornado is sighted, staff will have to warn patrons in person. We have a bullhorn with a siren, and have moved it to Circulation for use in making announcements if necessary.

–we had already contacted the Office of Emergency Preparedness at UVa to request help in verifying the best shelter locations in our library, so we look forward to having their guidance

–we are investigating the purchase of signs to designate shelter-in-place spaces in the library, once our sites are verified by UVa’s Office Emergency Preparedness

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