PILOT PROJECT RESULTS IN EMERGENCY PLANS AND PARTNERSHIPS
Project tools available to aid preparedness
WASHINGTON, DC – Thanks to guidance from preservation professionals, local emergency managers, and fire officials, fifteen museums in Mississippi, Ohio, and Texas are prepared to protect visitors and collections from disaster. Preservation experts teamed with emergency personnel to conduct risk evaluations and provide tips for emergency planning and prevention at the museums as part of the pilot Risk Evaluation and Planning Program (REPP). The innovative project was conducted by the national organization Heritage Preservation with support from theInstitute of Museum and Library Services.
The Risk Evaluation and Planning Program is unique in its approach to emergency preparedness because it pairs preservation experts with emergency professionals to conduct an on-site risk evaluation, the essential first step in emergency planning. The combined expertise helped participating museums identify and correct internal risks and develop more realistic plans. Emergency personnel advised the museums about safety issues and hazards affecting their communities and shared information on local evacuation and response plans. Preservation professionals suggested priority mitigation steps to protect collections and guided the museums in developing effective plans.
Jan Anglin, Executive Director of the Tishomingo County Archives and History Museum, in Iuka,MS, said, “I cannot begin to express how wonderful this was for our museum. We were made aware of risk and how to manage any risk to our building and collections. Just like in many museums, we are limited on time and people, but with this program we were able to get it [emergency plan] finished and done properly.”
An evaluation of the project showed that in addition to developing emergency plans, staff at each participating institution increased their knowledge of emergency preparedness and response strategies, identified potential risks to the institution, built new relationships with local emergency managers and firefighters, and implemented simple and cost-effective mitigation measures. Factors such as budget, staff size, type of collections, governance, and geography did not affect an institution’s ability to plan for disaster and mitigate risks.
Heritage Preservation developed assessment tools and planning guidelines to help the evaluation teams. These resources can be used to improve preparedness at any institution. Along with a full report of the outcomes and lessons from the project, they are available at www.heritagepreservation.org/REPP.