FAIC Conservation of Transparent Papers workshop, July 17-18 and July 19-20, 2012 at SIA. Taught by Hildegard Homburger. Photo by Nora Lockshin.

Pandemic Tests Preparedness

This National Preparedness Month, collections care professionals might consider joining their local Alliance for Response initiative to improve their organizations, practices, and programs. 

As we head into National Preparedness Month 2020, we find ourselves in the midst of a global emergency that many did not expect could have such a lasting impact. However, it is not unusual for emergency management programs to acknowledge and plan for parallel and cascading events. In fact, it is a great test of your preparedness program to offer complicating factors and what-if scenarios in training exercises, course modules, and written plans. 

It has become clear that organizations must plan for a Continuity of Operations (COOP), the effort within individual agencies to ensure that mission-essential functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies. Another area where planners might improve their emergency management programs is in preparing for an extended shutdown with a significant reduction in staff. 

Communication—working with ones’ stakeholders and in integration with local and state emergency agencies—is also key. The Smithsonian Office of Emergency Management staff actively work in coordination and partnership with area authorities in all of our geographic regions to support our infrastructure and manage our demands on the local systems, while protecting our staff and affiliated persons, collections, and mission programs.

One way to maximize communication, even for a stressed organization, is to network with local area and regional groups. While working to support our recovery, those of us who are versed in collections work have joined a collective effort called Alliance for Response (AFR) to help and understand our neighbors and allied organizations. While the New York and Massachusetts chapters have a head start, the D.C. chapter kicked off in 2018 and will soon be transitioning its listserv and co-working space to the official AFR Community platform.

Screenshot of a Twitter thread about a DC Alliance for Response workshop.

Is there an AFR community you can join on behalf of yourself or your organization? Membership is by registration without cost. This is one simple thing you can do for National Preparedness Month, virtually, to improve your organization, practice, and programs.  

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