MayDay 2015 HERA Atlanta educational program on disaster planning and wet salvage at the Georgia Archives

HERA morning sessionAfter a powerful morning educational presentation—punctuated with very scary photographs and anecdotes from her deployment after Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, Ann Frellsen, Emory University Libraries’ Collections Conservator and AIC CERT cultural heritage responder, facilitated a real-life (minus the snakes and sewer seepage) hands-on wet salvage exercise. Teams of five participants each faced salvaging a water-sodden mix of artifacts and documents—leather-bound books, framed “original” watercolors, textiles, and other challenging media.

Rovhands-on salvageing co-instructors tested participants’ retention of the Incident Command System’s protocol for designating functions and roles during recovery efforts. For example, a response team should have a specified communications person, a finance person, and a response team leader. One co-instructor caught a team or two succumbing to an “expert restorer’s” offer to speed up the drying process of magnetic media by microwaving the collection at a “special, disaster bargain rate.” A “reporter” fished over-taxed disaster responders for tasty tidbits. “Who’s gonna get fired? How much is this gonna cost? I heard it’s all a gonner: comments?” A local retailer jacked up emergency supply costs to “$100 per clothespin.” At the end of their ropes and clotheslines, weary responders purchased supplies at inflated prices on their institution’s credit.

The day-long program was information-packed, challenging, and not lacking in laughs. For more information on HERA Atlanta and future educational programs, subscribeto this blog or like HERA on Facebook.

For free Incident Command System training: