Maritime Museum Emergency and Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Manual


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A good step‑by‑step guide for preparing a plan is Emergency Management Guide for Business & Industry, available at no charge from your local American Red Cross Office.
Here are some general guidelines to follow:
l Begin by obtaining the authorization and commitment of your board or governing body. This lets everyone know that the process is being taken seriously. Trustees may also be able to use their peer contacts to help you line up contractors, cold storage companies, and other such services. Since the board may have to approve the funding for preparation, supplies, and equipment, it makes sense to get trustees involved in the planning process.
l Keep your plan simple. A simple plan with clear priorities has a better chance of succeeding than a complex plan which is too difficult to execute or understand. Sections V and VI below, as well as the Sample Emergency Preparedness Plan Index found in Appendix 8, will help you in putting your plan together.
l Dont reinvent the wheel. Check with local institutions and industries who may already have developed disaster preparedness and recovery plans suitable for your area. Hospitals, universities, libraries, theme parks, and other museums may have plans they will share with you. Talking to them about their plans is a good way to begin setting up a working partnership for mutual assistance in case of disaster. Certainly other CAMM members will be willing to share their plans, and your local Emergency Management Office and FEMA regional office will lend their expertise (see Appendix 1). There are also several software packages compatible with IBM and Macintosh which may be of use.2
l Consider your plan a basic reference. Actual circumstances may dictate a response different from what the plan suggests. Even the best plan will not cover all contingencies. Use common sense and adjust rapidly as circumstances warrant.
l When writing your plan, bear in mind the following disaster‑planning principles:
3 Human life and safety are the highest priority and must come before the safety of collections.

3 Plan for the worst.

3 Plan for all possible circumstances.

3 Assume no outside help or resources will be available.
l Dont overlook training. The way your staff responds to a disaster is less dependent upon written plans than it is upon their attitudes and mental state. Training is paramount if they are to deal effectively with adversity and confusion. Annual training for staff should include:
3 Disaster preparedness drills for likely disasters.

3 Procedures for notifying emergency personnel, fire, and police.

3 Evacuation drills.

3 Medical emergency procedures, including updated CPR training.

3 Emergency utility cut‑off drills.

3 Testing fire suppression and security systems.

l Assign clear responsibility for who will coordinate the preparation, annual training, testing, and updating of the plan. A disaster plan is not static, but must grow and change with the institution over time.

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