The flu.gov website provided by CDC has recently added content specifically about planning for H1N1 during this season of influenza. Among the many target audience groups they address are “Small Businesses” and “Institutions of Higher Education” (IHEs). While many of us are involved at IHEs, the information in that section is directed mostly to those who are preparing for implementation of policy, for managing student health, facilities maintenance, etc. The “Small Business” information, however, can apply very well to libraries, which are anticipating staff shortages and some impact to their day-to-day operations. In the section on “How to Write Your Plan,” there is some excellent guidance to help prepare for personnel issues that may arise when staff are ill or are caring for family members who are ill. The CDC recommends that anyone who has had any type of flu stay home for at least 24 hours after body temperature has returned to normal without the aid of fever-reducing medications, and they are anticipating that most people who become ill will be absent from work or school for 7 to 10 days. Something to think about!
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.