Evacuate or Shelter in Place?

Leave or Stay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a great resource for deciding when to evacuate and when to shelter in place, and it can easily be customized for use at your library.  Post it to inform patrons and staff, and also use it as a tool for carrying out drills with your public services staff.  (Check with your safety officials first to ensure that it complies with their procedures.)  Kudos to the staff at the University of Virginia Office of Emergency Preparedness for putting it together.  Click on the image above to see the entire page.

Eccles Health Sciences Library and the Great Utah ShakeOut

Claire Hamasu, Associate Director, NN/LM MidContinental Region, shares her experiences during the Great Utah Shakeout drill, which lasted three days, from April 17th to 19th.  This is a great example of the value of incorporating drills into your emergency planning strategy.

On a cool, rainy, overcast morning among good natured grumbling about “why couldn’t we choose a different day to have an earthquake”  the Great Utah ShakeOut  shook the Eccles Health Sciences Library. The Great Utah ShakeOut  (http://www.shakeout.org/utah/) was an earthquake drill that tested the state’s emergency response systems and, for the responders, lasted three days, April 17-19, 2012. For those of us in the library it lasted 45 minutes, from the time the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit at 10:15 am till we returned from the evacuation area at 11 am. The whole university participated, even construction workers building the new pharmacy building. In the health sciences center, only hospital employees providing direct patient care were exempt.

The official communication via text announcing the start of the drill didn’t reach everyone. There were library employees who did receive the message and communicated with others to “duck, cover and hold on.” As I was “cowering” under my desk, I used my cell phone to alert my designated contact in the RML to initiate the RML’s emergency plan. I let her know that we had just had an earthquake, I wasn’t able to provide the status of the rest of the staff, and the library would soon be evacuating.  The contact notified  the rest of the MCR staff about the drill in Utah. RML staff went through the pretend process of putting Eccles Health Sciences DOCLINE on hold and adding details to our emergency template message to go out on communication channels.

Library staff merged into the parade of colorful umbrellas walking to the designated evaluation area. I located the individuals reporting to me, noting that everyone had made it out of the library safely. I tried calling my contact to give her an update, but she couldn’t hear me. I sent her an email and later learned her computer was down so she didn’t receive the message.  

Some things we learned in the library. We needed to reinstitute a staff reporting system. People didn’t know who to notify that they had made it out safely. We have a collection of emergency reference books on a book truck. The triage location was set up down the road and a book truck is not a viable way to get the resources to the health care providers. We need a container that is totally enclosed and on wheels. The emergency contacts for libraries and museum meeting location needed to more centralized and closer to the emergency command center. If transportation and communication was down, this would reduce the distances people would have to walk and the environmental dangers they would encounter in order to produce a status report on the libraries and museums.

The RML reviews its emergency plan annually. Despite this regular review we discovered that much had changed with our communication tools. We need to revise how we use them, incorporating the new communications we now employ.  We also need to verify that staff is receiving messages from the disaster site.

Utah is overdue for its next big earthquake that happens every 30 years. Drills like this will ensure that we’re better prepared.

Claire Hamasu, Associate Director

NN/LM MidContinental Region

University of Utah Eccles Health Sciences Library

New TTE Page

What is a TTE, you ask?  TTE is the acronym for a key piece of emergency management and planning, the Table-Top Exercise.  Over the past three years, we’ve used various TTEs in our training with NN/LM members and other groups, and they are always motivating and effective.  They place people in roles in an emergency scenario and generate some very interesting and productive insights.  Check our new “Table-Top Exercises” page (or see the top menu) for more information about TTEs and for two exercises we’ve written to help get you started.

Library Table-Top Exercise in the Snowy South

We have heard from Jie Li, Assistant Director for Collection Management at the Biomedical Library, University of South Alabama in Mobile, that her library held a very successful table-top exercise prior to a predicted snow storm recently.  While a few inches of snow is not an emergency in the northern states where there’s snow removal equipment and snow tires on people’s cars, it can be paralyzing in a state that has not historically needed to be prepared for it.  Jie is the State Coordinator for Alabama on NN/LM’s Southeast Atlantic (SE/A) Region’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Committee, and she used her experience as an emergency preparedness planner to apply the service continuity techniques promoted by NN/LM to her library’s exercise, with very positive results.

  1. they made sure that a librarian working from home would have vendor information and the usernames and passwords necessary to trouble-shoot any access issues for their electronic resources
  2. their Technology Librarian would be able to upload messages to the library’s home page about changes to hours and service provision from home, and also sent instructions about using chat, email, etc. for providing reference services
  3. the ILL librarian shut down ILL lending and would access DOCLINE from home for borrowing.  Access to ILLiad was also enabled from the librarian’s home.
  4. they made plans for scheduling virtual reference desk hours, to be provided from librarians’ homes
  5. they sent their completed Pocket Plans (PReP) and current telephone tree lists to everyone via email

Jie reported that the exercise helped them be prepared for the storm, which did close the library for part of the next day.  They were ready and able to provide virtual reference help and continued access to their electronic resources, as well as communicating to their patrons what the library’s hours would be and how to get help.  Many thanks to Jie for sharing their experience with us.  Hearing such great success stories is an inspiration to all of us involved in emergency preparedness and response, and reminds us that it takes only a bit of planning and communication to turn a potential emergency into a win-win situation for the library and its patrons.

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Pandemic Planning Page

The Toolkit has a new page to assist libraries taking part in pandemic planning.  The page (click here to view) contains links to the CDC’s H1N1 site (including a link to follow the CDC Twitter content), as well as to several Word documents that contain information about pandemic planning, some service continuity issues that libraries may need to address, and a sample table-top exercise that can be used to assist in pandemic planning.

The focus of some of the content of the page is on academic health sciences libraries, but the content can be adapted to suit the needs of other types of libraries or institutions.  We will continue to develop the page, adding relevant content as it emerges.

Pandemic planning exercise

Yesterday, Tuesday, May 5, we convened a meeting at our library to review our pandemic plans and conduct a brief table-top exercise.  The meeting produced some excellent observations and insights, both for successes and things we need to work out.  The first half of the meeting was a review of our procedures, based the table (see below in the “Planning for Service Continuity During a Pandemic” post) from our library’s emergency preparedness plan.  All the “key players” attended, including:  the library’s emergency response coordinator, the library Director, IT manager, web development manager, business manager, head of reference services, collection development manager, database coordinator, ILL supervisor, and Circulation supervisor.  All these positions played roles in the planning and in the response exercise.  The scenario we used for the table-top exercise:  it is 3 PM on a Sunday afternoon, when the University decides to close all the libraries on campus to enact social-distancing measures.  The closure is intended to prevent the spread of influenza resulting from a pandemic.  What is done immediately?  What is done Monday morning?  Before beginning the discussion of procedures for this scenario, participants drew slips of paper from a bowl, which designated them as “sick” or “well.”  One-third of the participants were designated “sick,” and therefore did not play a role in the exercise.  This pointed out the need for back-up in certain key positions.

Some questions arose that might be helpful to others in the planning process, among them:

  • can you change the voice mail message on your library’s main phone from your home?  who has the authority and the access needed to do this?  who is the backup for that person?
  • who has current staff home phone number information?  is someone responsible for keeping the list upddated, and for distributing it?  should lists be given to everyone, or to select people?
  • do the appropriate library staff have access to the “Ask a Librarian” chat function from home?
  • do you need an official “voice” for providing information about the status of the library?  if so, will that person have access to communication channels, such as announcements on your web site?
  • can the person responsible for ILL/Document Delivery access resources needed to provide ILL requests to your patrons from home, i.e. is the required software installed on the home computer/laptop?
  • is there a provision for emergency access to print materials for affiliated patrons in the event of a patient-care emergency while the library is closed?
  • is there an institutional need for designating a way to account for time worked at home by library staff?  

Besides refining our procedures and identifying a few areas to be improved, everyone agreed that the meeting/exercise was an excellent way to keep emergency preparedness, and pandemic planning particularly, in our corporate awareness.

Goodbye winter, hello spring!

As winter bids us farewell with a few inches of snow and sub-freezing temperatures (increasingly rare here in central Virginia), we note that the likelihood of tornadoes will be increasing as the weather turns warmer.  As they say, there is no real tornado “season,” because one can happen any time and in any place, but we see that internet searchers are looking for information on tornado preparedness more often now, so here is some information that we hope will be helpful in preparing for the tumultuous spring weather than can give birth to tornadoes and other severe storms.

As always, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention web site offers excellent information and advice on tornadoes as part of their Emergency Preparedness and Response information, specifically their Natural Disasters and Severe Weather page.   Click on the “Tornado” link for some great information on what you should know and what to do before a tornado, during and afterwards.  For instance, what do you think is the most dangerous aspect of a tornado?  Where is the most dangerous place to be in a tornado?  The answers may surprise you!

Many states will be running tornado preparedness drills in March.  Here’s the Virginia site that lists information about the state-wide drill on March 17, as well as how to run a tornado drill.  Check out the information on the page about how to find the safest place inside your building to shelter from a tornado. 

NOAA weather radios are wonderful to have in your building if you are in an area that is particularly vulnerable to servere storms, or you just want to keep in touch with weather events.  They are available with a range of features and at a price range from $25 and up, from a variety of sources.  (Amazon lists many models and prices.)  Ours has alerted us several times to thunderstorms in the summer, which helped us to be prepared for possible power disruptions and wind/water damage.  The NOAA radios receive information continuously from the National Weather Service, and you can set them to sound an alert to your specific area so that the alarm doesn’t sound more often than necessary.   Best wishes to everyone for a safe and happy spring season!

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