Some excellent advice about TTEs (Table-Top Exercises)

Click here to see a page that gives an excellent explanation of what a table-top exercise is, and how to create and run one.  The author is Joe Olivo, of Strohl Consulting Services.  Joe is a Certified Business Continuity Planner, and while the page notes that he has consulted with financial institutions, law firms, and businesses, I think that his advice can be easily adapted for just about any type of institution, including libraries large and small.  It’s a good example of providing information that is general enough to be adapted, while specific enough to be helpful. 

I particularly like this part:  “Based upon the effectiveness of the pre-exercise meetings, the exercise will almost run by itself with team members knowing what has to be accomplished. Exercising is a primary means of training. In any actual recovery effort, the best team members are usually those who have participated in exercises.”

We are beginning monthly training sessions here at UVa’s HSL with staff who are responsible for emergency response, using a table-top exercise each month for a different scenario.  The first scenario was an epidemic of influenza, in which the library’s staffing was compromised.  We talked through how the library would be opened, how to determine if it should stay open, how core services would be maintained, how patrons would be notified if necessary.  We were able to address questions about communication and availablility of various resources, among others, and found the exercise to be quite helpful.  Our staff enjoyed working through the scenario, and felt better prepared to respond afterward.

Dan also used table-top exercises in training sessions for NN/LM’s RML staff and emergency response coordinators this year, and the exercises were very effective in helping everyone understand their roles and how the established plan would be implemented across a given scenario and by the various “players.”  Many thanks to Joe Olivo and Strohl for making this information available in such an accessible format.

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

Practice makes perfect (or at least better…)

Case Western Reserve University recently staged a mock emergency and subsequent response drill (read about it here).  It reminded me that no matter how good our written plans are, we don’t know how they will play out until we give them a test-drive.  Even if we can’t manage a drill as extensive as CWRU’s, we can get people together to run through a tabletop drill, or just stage an event for our own staff without involving the community of responders.  Something to think about during the break between semesters for those of us in academic settings….

Practice makes perfect (or at least better…)

Case Western Reserve University recently staged a mock emergency and subsequent response drill (read about it here).  It reminded me that no matter how good our written plans are, we don’t know how they will play out until we give them a test-drive.  Even if we can’t manage a drill as extensive as CWRU’s, we can get people together to run through a tabletop drill, or just stage an event for our own staff without involving the community of responders.  Something to think about during the break between semesters for those of us in academic settings….

A good learning experience without the disaster…

Here’s an excellent web site from the Palmetto Archives, Libraries, and Museums Council on Preservation in South Carolina, where they know a thing or two about water damage, high humidity, and hurricane preparedness.  Click on their link to “Disaster Plan Template” to see a comprehensive, yet basic list of situations to consider in developing procedures for emergency response.  Great job, Palmetto planners!

A good learning experience without the disaster…

Here’s an excellent web site from the Palmetto Archives, Libraries, and Museums Council on Preservation in South Carolina, where they know a thing or two about water damage, high humidity, and hurricane preparedness.  Click on their link to “Disaster Plan Template” to see a comprehensive, yet basic list of situations to consider in developing procedures for emergency response.  Great job, Palmetto planners!