Responding to Sudden Events: Keep it Simple

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What sudden events can happen at your library?  Can you and your staff respond to them without needing to look up the response?  Take a look at these easy-to-remember responses and then contact your local law enforcement officials to see if they could apply to your library.

TORNADO
Watch:
monitor weather reporting stations online and via the weather radio.
Warning: announce via intercom that a warning has posted. Instruct everyone to move away from windows.

POWER OUTAGE
Wait for 10 minutes to see if power returns.  If power does not return in 10 minutes, initiate closing procedures. Take flashlight and check all areas of the library for patrons who may need assistance.

MEDICAL EMERGENCY
Call 911. Announce on the intercom that medical assistance is needed in the [state location].

EARTHQUAKE
DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON. If you need to evacuate the building, wait until the shaking has stopped.  Keep in mind that remaining in the building might be your best option, as the earthquake may have caused downed power lines and broken gas lines.

BOMB THREAT
Get as much information as possible, such as location of device, when it will go off, what it looks like, why it was placed, etc. Listen for environmental clues as to location of caller. Call 911 and follow instructions.

SHOOTER
Take cover.

HAZMAT INCIDENT
Follow instructions from emergency officials.

FIRE
Call 911 and pull the nearest fire alarm if not already activated.  Evacuate the building.  Await word from emergency officials for when it’s safe to re-enter.

Severe Weather Sample Situation Report

Communicating with your staff is essential before a severe weather event .  Here is a sample situation report that you can adapt for your workplace:

Please remember to dial _______ tomorrow morning before heading out to work. If the library is closed, all non-essential staff should not report to work. Essential staff will communicate with ________, who will be communicating with ____________.

Due to the many uncertainties of this storm, it’s hard to tell at this time what conditions will be like during the morning commute. Most of the forecasts I’ve seen show snow throughout the day, so even if we can open the library we may be in an early closing scenario. However, we’ll have to let it play out and make adjustments along the way.

The Service Continuity Team (SCT) and essential services staff are now on stand-by. Essential services staff from the standpoint of staffing the library and the SCT from the standpoint of keeping our core services available from their homes. Since there is the potential for power outages, _____ will coordinate the SCT.  If you are on the SCT and you lose power during business hours, please contact _____. ______ will then notify a backup, if one is available.

________ will be handling messages on the library’s website, and will be in communication with ___________ who will be handling social media.

Questions?  Please let me know.

Is Your Library Disaster Ready?

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Take the test.  Answer Yes or No to the 15 elements of a library at a state of disaster readiness listed below.  How many times did you respond with a Yes?  Want a better score?  Our training program can create a disaster readiness culture in your library.  In addition, we can help you become part of your community’s emergency planning strategy by connecting you with emergency planners. Want more information? Contact Dan Wilson, Coordinator, NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, at 434-924-0193 or dtw2t@virginia.edu.  You may also contact your regional NN/LM library at 1-800-DEV-ROKS.

Here are some libraries we’ve worked with in the past year:
Washington County Free Library (Maryland)
West Deptford Public Library (New Jersey)
Eastern Shore Regional Library (Maryland)
New Jersey State Library

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A Call to Action

Last night I looked up and watched as four strangers applied splints to my arm and leg.  Another stranger applied pressure to my carotid artery to stem the bleeding.  They worked quickly and watched constantly for any changes in my condition.  I felt no pain throughout the process, as I was the volunteer victim during the final hands-on session of my eight-week CERT training course.  (CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team, a component of Citizens Corps, which is administered by FEMA.  In the United States, there are over 1,100 community CERT programs.)  My “victim” experience gave me a deep appreciation of the value of citizen volunteer groups, as they are likely the ones to provide initial treatment in the event of large-scale casualty situation.

Librarians can bring many skills to the emergency planning community.  In CERT alone, there is a great need for database managers, newsletter writers, web page maintainers, social media specialists, and information providers at call centers.  I am a member of the Info Team, a group of volunteers that takes non-emergency calls whenever the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) has been activated.  An example of the type of call the Info Team would receive is someone asking about the availability of pharmacies following a disaster.  I’ve also volunteered to provide assistance with social media, such as Twitter.

I highly encourage all librarians to explore ways to take part in emergency preparedness and response activities in their communities or institution.  Go to the Citizen Corps website (URL: http://www.citizencorps.gov/) and do a zip code search in the box labeled Find Your Local Council to find contact information for area Citizen Corps organizations.  In addition, you can find other volunteer groups by going to the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (URL: http://www.nvoad.org/states#sevend) and searching the Membership tab for your state.  Finally, if you want a higher level of training on providing access to information for emergency preparedness and response, check out the Disaster Information Specialization Program offered by the Medical Library Association and the National Library of Medicine (URL: http://www.mlanet.org/education/dis/).

Libraries and librarians are playing a greater role in emergency preparedness and response throughout our nation.  Emergency planners are recognizing our value and are working librarians and libraries into their planning strategies.  There is a place for each of us somewhere in those strategies.  All it takes is some time and commitment.  The rewards are immeasurable.

 

Highest State of Readiness

Here are the elements that would be in place at a library that exhibits the highest state of readiness.  The list is based on our experience along with information we provide in our training program.  It’s likely that very few libraries, if any, have achieved this state, but it provides a bar for all of us to aim for.  As we move into the new year, we will be searching for and highlighting any library that has achieved this esteemed status.Comprehensive Disaster Plan updated at least once a year

  1. Comprehensive Disaster Plan updated at least once a year
  2. Response station that includes posted response procedures and ready access to tools (e.g., flashlights, first aid kit, bullhorn, plastic, battery operated radio, etc.) for handling an emergency
  3. One-page Service Continuity Pocket Response Plan (PReP) updated at least quarterly
  4. Shelter-in-place location
  5. Communication plan that incorporates redundancy of means of communication (such as what to do if cell phones don’t work) and procedures for updating  website, Facebook page, and/or Twitter
  6. Service continuity team
  7. At least one scheduled evacuation drill per year
  8. At least one table-top exercise per year
  9. Library and/or librarians integrated into parent institution’s disaster plan
  10. Core print textbooks/materials identified and labeled or shelved together
  11. Servers with core online resources on unlimited emergency power
  12. Mutual Aid Agreements with other libraries or networks for delivery of core services
  13. Prioritized recovery list of all valuable and hard to replace materials
  14. Partnership (contract not required) with commercial salvage and recovery company (e.g., Belfor, BMS, Munters)
  15. 72-hour emergency kits at the homes of all members of service continuity team

New Feature: Virtual 10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning

We now have a virtual 10-Step program!  The program, under 16 minutes, is broken down into an introduction and 10 individual steps, so it can be worked on as time permits.  In between some of the steps are assignments that, when completed, will greatly improve the readiness capabilities of your library.  Please feel free to offer your comments or suggestions.

Click on this URL and then look below the photographs: http://nnlm.gov/ep/10-stepsservice-continuity/.

For a taste of the program, here is the Introduction: