Emergency Preparedness in the Pacific Southwest Region

We met last week (June 22) with NN/LM staff from the Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) in the Louise Darling Biomedical Library at UCLA, along with representatives from the states in their region (see the photo of state representatives in the gallery here on the site).  Attending for the states were:  Amy Knehans from Hawaii, Cinda McClain from Arizona, Triza Crittle from Nevada, and Chapter liaisons Peggy Tahir and Irene Lovas from California.   After an overview of progress of the national plan and reports from the state representatives and NN/LM staff, we presented the recently developed curriculum for use by NN/LM staff in training members in the “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity,” which now includes a new risk assessment exercise and score sheet handout (thanks to the South Central Region for the encouragement to develop this idea!).

Judy Consales, Director, and Julie Kwan, Network Coordinator of the PSR taught a class called “Are You Ready?” in Hawaii, presenting both face-to-face and using AccessGrid, which was quite successful.  In addition to outreach efforts, Heidi Sandstrom, Associate Director, noted that their library has also continued to develop emergency preparedness plans, having recently enhanced signage and room numbers/designations to help with evacuations and troubleshooting in their building.  Jake Nadal, of the UCLA Library’s Preservation Department, spoke to the group about UCLA’s efforts to provide continuous access to digital resources as well as how to plan for preservation of print materials and other library resources.  The day closed with a discussion of goals for the region during the coming year, as well as some questions and ideas to be addressed, as outlined by Heidi.

Once again, we were energized by the excellent collaborative spirit of the NN/LM staff and the state representatives from the PSR, and benefitted from hearing about their successes as well as ideas for improvement of the plan and the resources offered (e.g. the Toolkit and the training materials).  The PSR training meeting was our last NN/LM staff meeting for this contract year, and we can say without reservation that NN/LM Directors, Associate Directors, all NN/LM staff, and the state representatives have been unfailingly enthusiastic, hospitable, creative, and committed to including emergency preparedness in their outreach to NN/LM members.

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New Page for Promotional Materials

There are three new brochures available for use in promoting the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan.  There is one that presents an overview of the plan, one that features the Toolkit, and one about the “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning” class.  Check out the new page, “Promotional Materials” here on the Toolkit (see above) for the PDFs of the brochures, and contact your NN/LM office for more information or to arrange a class.

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Hospital Librarians Summit in Chicago–April 21

Now that the dust has settled from the flurry of spring activities for the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan team, here is a brief summary of the Hospital Librarians Summit that was held in Chicago on April 21 with excellent results.  Fourteen hospital librarians from across the country, half sponsored by the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan and half by the eight Regions of NN/LM,  attended the day-long meeting at the Library of the Health Sciences at the University of Illinois/Chicago.  The meeting was hosted by the Greater Midwest Region of the NN/LM, with arrangements provided by Ruth Holst, Associate Director.  Each of the eight NN/LM Regions was represented, most by two hospital librarians and an emergency preparedness liaison from the NN/LM staff in each region.  Participants received an overview of NN/LM’s Emergency Preparedness Plan, and the resources that exist for assisting librarians to develop and implement emergency preparedness plans, then heard presentations about the activities of NLM’s Disaster Information Research Center (DIMRC).  In the afternoon, David Esterquest, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Ruth University Medical Center, spoke to the group about hospital emergency preparedness, how roles are established and how communication functions, as well as how hospital librarians can assist and develop roles with their hospitals for emergency preparedness.

As a result of break-out sessions that were part of the meeting, here are highlights of discussions about the roles hospital librarians can play in emergency preparedness and response:

         offer library space (e.g. community crisis center, communications center, day care)

         work in evacuation shelters, bringing books and needed reference materials

         aid other institutions in disaster area to help salvage damaged collections

         collection managers of disaster-related resources

         information facilitators to public and health care professionals/communicate with public library

         internal planners with hospital administration (let managers know what librarians can do in a disaster)

         government partners (e.g. internet access to fill out FEMA forms)

         bibliographic searches to public and health care professionals

         host sessions on emergency preparedness—invite speakers and bring in experts

         assist with grant writing

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.

On the same page

It’s good to be “on the same page” with an organization like Heritage Preservation!  Check out their “Do One Thing” initiative for May Day (May 1) this year.  They encourage all libraries and cultural institutions to take some of the same actions the NN/LM is recommending to its members in its “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity,” such as prioritizing collections for rescue, establishing relationships with “buddy” institutions, etc.  They also mention that their Disaster Wheel and accompanying Field Guide are on sale at a special price for May Day.  These materials have been highly recommended to NN/LM members throughout the training sessions in emergency preparedness and response that have been offered over the past year and a half.

The Heritage site also notes that even though hurricane “season” doesn’t start until June 1, our continent is already experiencing severe weather and flooding, noting that a disaster can happen at any time and in any place.  If you visit their site, you might enjoy looking around a bit while you are there.  Heritage Preservation (a partner with FEMA) is an excellent resource for all things preservation and recovery for collections.  Where the NN/LM emergency preparedness initiative complements Heritage is its focus on service continuity to patrons in terms of providing health related information.

Another 24/7 assistance resource

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site now displays a “Report an Emergency” button on each page within its “Emergency Preparedness and Response” section.  Clicking there reveals a page that provides several options for obtaining health-related information in an emergency.  Their recommendation to the general public is to call “911.”  However, they offer a 24/7 direct telephone number to their Emergency Operations Center, for use by state and federal agencies, but also for physicians who may need information related to emergency patient care.  As part of our emergency preparedness planning activities, we can add this resource to those we recommend to our clientele, especially since it is available 365/24/7.

Great ideas from Utah

Claire Hamasu, Associate Director of the MidContinental Region of NN/LM at Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah in Salt Lake City, has sent us the recently implemented documentation developed by their library’s emergency preparedness team.  It looks great, and we expect it will be really helpful to NN/LM members as an example of emergency/disaster planning for any type of library.  They have provided their version of the Pocket Response Plan (PReP) (originally devised by the Council of State Archivists–see the “Disaster Plan Templates” page above) as well as a photo and the content of a flip-chart they designed for display in the library.  The flip-chart provides quick and easy access to the key parts of their plan, while the PReP provides their staff with an easy-to-carry concise version of their plan for use from off-site.

We appreciate the willingness of the emergency preparedness team at Eccles HSL to share their work with us, and congratulate them on a job well done!  See the “Disaster Plan Templates” page above to check out their documents.  Many thanks to Claire for reporting her library’s progress and sending us these great ideas!

Eccles Library Flip Chart

Eccles Library Flip Chart