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Responding to Sudden Events: Keep it Simple

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Take cover.

Follow instructions from emergency officials.

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.

OPAL (One Page All Libraries) Podcast Available

On March 25th [New Jersey] State Librarian Mary Chute’s podcast discussion focused on One Page All Libraries (OPAL), a service continuity plan for libraries that helps you get your services up and running again, as quickly as possible, after a disaster. Mary was joined by Michele Stricker, NJSL’s Associate Director of Library Support Services, along with special guest, Dan Wilson, Coordinator for the National Network Libraries of Medicine Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative.

Click on the image above for the podcast.

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.

Report of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Summit in Charlottesville, VA

Normalcy and Intelligence: A forum to discuss ways libraries and information professionals can strengthen a community’s emergency planning strategy

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Central Library of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library System
Charlottesville, Virginia

Ryan McCay, Emergency Planner, Thomas Jefferson Health District
Sammy Chao, Coordinator, Medical Reserve Corps, Thomas Jefferson District
Nick Drauschack, Disaster Services Manager Coordinator, Virginia Mountain Region, American Red Cross
Kirby Felts, Emergency Manager Coordinator, Charlottesville/Albemarle County/University of Virginia
Stacey Arnesen, Branch Chief, Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC), National Library of Medicine
Charles Werner, Charlottesville Fire Chief

Dan Wilson, Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative

Panelists (left to right): Charles Werner, Stacey Arnesen, Kirby Felts, Nick Drauschack, Sammy Chao, Ryan McCay, John Halliday, Director, Jefferson Madison Regional Library, at the podium

Panelists (left to right): Charles Werner, Stacey Arnesen, Kirby Felts, Nick Drauschack, Sammy Chao, Ryan McCay, John Halliday, Director, Jefferson Madison Regional Library, at the podium

Discussion of a Scenario-based Event

Wilson: Suppose an EF2 tornado (wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph) strikes the southeast side of Charlottesville.  What information sources would you rely on during the first three hours after the destructive tornado?

Werner:  I’ll be the first one responding.  The first reports will come into our Emergency Operations Center (EOC).  We are fortunate here in Charlottesville that all dispatches, whether county, city, or university, come out of one place, the EOC, unlike many other jurisdictions that are stove piped.    During the Tornado Watch we will be watching for reports from Kirby (Emergency Manager Coordinator) and checking our apps, such as iNWS (Interactive National Weather Service).  We are also watching radar on our smartphones and, if needed, adding extra staff.  If a lot of calls suddenly come in to the EOC, our dispatch goes into a red flag operation, and I’ll start talking to Kirby.  Where are the calls coming from? What kind of property damage?  What is the magnitude of the storm?  Kirby then takes the information to the leaders of the city, county, and university to determine if we need to open the EOC.  Then we move into response, which may include calling for mutual aid.

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