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Small Trip Report – Disaster Communications Summit 2013

By Anne Conner, Gale Medical Library, Littleton Regional Healthcare, Littleton, NH

I’d like to share a few words about my recent trip to Chicago March 7-8, 2013, which the NN/LM-NER funded, to attend a Disaster Communication Summit sponsored by the NN/LM Greater Midwest Region (GMR) and Midcontinental Region (MCR) offices. For starters, I made it out of Logan Airport just before Winter Storm Saturn (a.k.a. “Snowquester”) blasted in to the Northeast, and right after it left the Midwest, dumping record amounts of snow in Chicago. As Ruth Holst (Associate Director of the NN/LM GMR) welcomed all of us at the beginning of the first of three courses, she noted that her hero of the day was the woman from the Northeast (that would be me).

The first session featured a panel discussion with speakers from the emergency planning community, and focused on the roles libraries can play before, during, and after a disaster. The workshop on service continuity planning given by Dan Wilson, Coordinator, NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, was particularly helpful. Dan presented a step-by-step approach to how a library can continue to provide its core resources and services to patrons in the event of a disaster or any kind of service disruption. He will continue to work with the attendees over the course of 9 weeks to complete their own library’s service continuity plan. I commend the GMR and MCR (hosts of the Summit) for having their own service continuity plans in place, as they had the capacity to bring in two of the faculty using the National Library of Medicine’s Adobe Connect®. Cindy Love, from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), effectively taught “US Response to Disasters and Public Health Emergencies”. She never realized when she had agreed to teach this course that, not only would the winter storm prevent her from traveling to Chicago, but also the sequestration and resulting government travel restrictions would also interfere. Due to the winter storm, Dan Wilson from the U. of Virginia was not able to travel, either, and he also used Adobe Connect.

Kacy Allgood, MLS, gave a presentation titled Roles for Librarians in Disaster Communications: Experiences of an Ambulance-Riding Librarian. As a Sewell Fellow, her position is currently embedded in several Emergency Medical Services agencies in the Indianapolis, Indiana region. I came away from this experience having met some great librarians from the Midwest and Midcontinental Regions, having learned quite a bit, and having a heightened appreciation for the value of our RMLs. Many thanks to the NER office!

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