Unique Partnership in Delaware

The latest initiative developed by the disaster network Delaware Disaster Assistance Team (DDAT) is a unique partnership between DDAT member institutions and the student chapter of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) at the University of Delaware (IAEM@UD). Last fall, DDAT launched a pilot program to pair up graduate student volunteer teams of 2–3 students to work with representatives of DDAT member organizations to assess their existing institutional disaster plans (if they had one) and to make recommendations and provide support and resources to either create a plan or enhance an existing one. This is as a win-win project: DDAT member organizations get semi-professional support and assistance with a task that many seem to find daunting but that is, of course, at the core of any organization’s preparedness, while the student volunteers gain valuable experience not only consulting on the development of disaster plans but also in interacting with cultural heritage organizations, which gives them a unique perspective and challenge. The initial pilot involving a library has just been completed, and results were both informative and positive.  A second pilot involving a museum will be initiated soon, and a full roll-out of the program will take place early this spring. Work is also underway to incorporate graduate students in UD’s Museum Studies Program as assessment team members assigned to museums to strengthen the teams’ skill set.  To learn more about the partnership project, contact Pat Young at the Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware.



Forming Disaster Networks to Be Topic of Conference Session

As emergency planning systems have grown more sophisticated, museums, libraries, and historic sites are challenged to develop effective responses to large disasters. A session at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) will discuss the importance of forming networks for response and training, provide tips for starting new networks, and offer suggestions for fostering relationships with emergency management personnel.

The panel session will feature presenters Dyani Feige of the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), who will moderate the session and discuss the Pennsylvania Cultural Resilience Network (PaCRN); LeRae Umfleet, Office of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, who will talk about North Carolina’s Cultural Resources Emergency Support Team (CREST); Pat Young, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, and current chair of the Delaware Disaster Assistance Team (DDAT), who will discuss DDAT’s formation and structure as well as lessons learned along its six-year history; and Kathy Craughwell-Varda, Project Director of Conservation ConneCTion, Connecticut State Library, who will discuss their accomplishments, which include increasing awareness of the need for all cultural heritage institutions to be disaster ready and laying the foundation for mutual aid.

Some of the panelists participated in the Philadelphia State Heritage Emergency Partnership forum in 2013. The AASLH Annual Meeting will be held September 17–20, 2014, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Early bird registration for the meeting ends July 25.

Delaware Disaster Assistance Team (DDAT) Hosts Program on Mental Health and Disasters

Susan Duhl, private conservator and AIC CERT member, and Faye Rosenbaum, General Manager of the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance, presented a program to DDAT members as part of the Spring 2014 gathering on May 21 at Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware.  Susan discussed the theoretical and practical issues relating to stress and mental health that can arise among responding staff members during and following disaster situations, while Faye reflected on her experience and that of the Martha Graham Center’s staff during their response to and recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

Although DDAT programs have addressed a broad range of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery topics in the past such as creating a disaster plan, working with first responders, triaging impacted collections, and developing wet material recovery skills, this was the group’s first time addressing and considering the topic of mental health needs that often manifest in the wake of a hurricane, tornado, flood, or other disaster.

It was particularly interesting and useful to reflect on the more unique situations that can develop when the collections impacted belong to a performing arts organization such as the Martha Graham Center.  Because the collections themselves serve a different role within the organization than those of a museum, library, or historical society, the response and recovery process differed and created challenges with regard to triage, communication with response and recovery professionals, etc.

This program served as an outstanding starting point to address a vitally important topic and DDAT looks forward to continuing this discussion moving forward as we work together to support one another in strengthening our disaster preparedness skills.  For more information on the program, please contact Pat Young, DDAT Chair, at pyoung@udel.edu.

DDAT Hosts Vendor and Resource Expo

Ryan Grover, Pat Young, and BELFOR rep Glenn Allison at 2013 DDAT Vendor and Resource Expo

Ryan Grover, Pat Young, and BELFOR rep Glenn Allison at 2013 DDAT Vendor and Resource Expo

The Delaware Disaster Assistance Team (DDAT) hosted a Vendor and Resource Expo in October as part of its regular fall program. Participating exhibitors included representatives from national disaster response and recovery companies such as Polygon and ServPro, regional organizations such as the Conservation Center for Art and Historical Artifacts (CCAHA) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), and non-traditional sources of disaster preparedness information such as the Delaware Division of Libraries. Attendees from various DDAT member institutions had the opportunity to learn about Polygon’s Code Blue Program, a free program that provides priority response to clients in the aftermath of emergencies and disasters. Additionally, attendees leveraged the gathering to network with local service providers and one another, strengthening their ability to be better prepared and to provide a more effective response to future disasters.

Our thanks go to all of the participating exhibitors. In addition to those mentioned above, representatives from BELFOR, Gaylord and Holliger Metal Edge shared information regarding their disaster preparedness, response, and recovery services and products.  Gaylord very generously donated one of their React PaksTM as a door prize and other items raffled included a NOAA weather radio and a Heritage Preservation Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel.

This was a very successful event for DDAT. We encourage other statewide or regional cultural heritage disaster preparedness organizations to consider hosting your own vendor and resource expo. If you would like suggestions on how to host such an event, please contact Pat Young at pyoung@udel.edu or (302) 831-8791.

Enhanced Emergency Preparedness in Delaware

DDAT CERT Training

On July 10-11, 2013, a group of 34 representatives of museums, archives, libraries, and historical societies from across Delaware gathered at the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Museum in Dover to participate in an extensive, two-day Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training on all things emergency and disaster.  Training was provided by staff members and volunteers from the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and included such diverse topics as “Disaster Preparedness,” “Fire Safety,” “Seven Signs of Terrorism,” and “Light Search and Rescue.”

Participants left the training with vastly enhanced knowledge of how to be more effective in a disaster situation, whether they find themselves at their cultural heritage institution or at home when the event occurs.  All attendees received a “response backpack” loaded with personal protective equipment and tools needed to implement an effective response.

This event was sponsored by the Delaware Disaster Assistance Team (DDAT).  For more information regarding the event or DDAT, please contact Pat Young at pyoung@udel.edu.