A Disaster Recovery Plan for the Australian National Herbarium
Reaction is the initial response to an emergency situation. If fire is involved, reaction will consist of evacuating the building in response to the fire alarm. If the emergency does not involve fire, reaction will consist of identifying the emergency, assessing the situation and reporting it to the relevant people. This will lead to actions being taken to protect staff and, if safe to do so, actions to stabilize the situation to minimize damage to the collection.
The reaction phase of any disaster response should also involve the planning of the recovery process.
If fire alarms are activated, the following actions should be taken:
- Evacuate buildings according to emergency procedures;
- Fire wardens assist in the evacuation according to their roles defined in fire response protocols;
- Re-entry of the building(s) and Recovery may not commence until the ACT Fire Brigade and any other Emergency Service that may be in attendance have given permission; and
- Recovery should not commence until after a plan has been developed for conducting the Recovery (see Planning the Recovery in section 3.2 below).
3.1.2 Non-Fire Emergency
Any person(s) discovering an emergency should take the following actions:
Identify the emergency
An emergency situation is any sudden occurrence that significantly affects, or threatens to affect, the safety of people or the physical condition of the collections or any part of the collections.
Assess the Situation
Note the following:
- Source of the hazard;
- If anyone is hurt;
- If the area is safe; and
- If collection material is affected.
Report Emergency Incident (using Emergency Contacts in Appendix E)
Depending on the scale of the emergency, notify the relevant people, such as:
- Emergency Services (Fire Brigade, Ambulance, Police, ph: 000)
- Site Emergency Controller
- Site/Building First Aid Officers
- Buildings Engineer
- Buildings Manager
- ActewAGL (if electricity or gas shut off is required)
- Security/Duty officer - if after-hours
- Collections Recovery Coordinator – should be contacted as soon as possible, after safety concerns have been considered, if collections have been affected.
- Black Mountain Library should be contacted if Herbarium Library materials have been affected.
If human safety is threatened , the following actions may be necessary:
- Evacuate building (manual activation of fire alarms can assist in this task). NOTE: injured people should not be evacuated unless absolutely necessary.
- Tend to injuries
- Shut off services as necessary (eg water, power, gas). This may require relevant authorities attending. If on-site personnel shut off services, official service authorities may still be required to attend to ensure there is no danger involved in re-entering the building(s) (eg through electrocution).
- Inspection of any structural damage to buildings by the building engineer.
If human safety is not threatened , immediate actions may include:
- Immediate stabilisation of the emergency situation (see Immediate Stabilisation below)
Role of Collections Recovery Coordinator
Upon receiving a report of an emergency situation the Collections Recovery Co-ordinator should assess the situation by asking the following questions of the person reporting:
- What is the nature and the source of the emergency?
- Does the hazard pose a threat to human safety and if so, is anyone hurt?
- Have all relevant bodies/persons been notified?
If everything has been done to ensure human safety, the Collections Recovery Co-ordinator should make the following inquiries:
- Are the collections affected?
- What is the extent of the emergency (what floors have been checked)?
- Who has already been notified?
- Have any actions been taken to protect the collections?
If the hazard has not been contained and it is safe to enter the Collections area(s), the Collections Recovery Co-ordinator should initiate immediate stabilisation of the emergency situation, remembering that collection material should not be evacuated hastily at the time of an emergency (see underpinning principles section 1.3 ). Actions may include the following:
- Delegate someone to mobilise people in the immediate vicinity to assist with the stabilisation effort;
- Contain hazard with bins, buckets, mops and adsorbent materials in disaster bin;
- Close compactus’;
- Cover collection material with plastic sheeting from disaster bin; and/or
- Remove material from harms way, if appropriate, noting that any already affected material will be particularly fragile and handling should be kept to a minimum.
DO NOT attempt to rectify any malfunctioning piece of electrical equipment.
After the evacuation, or after the emergency has been stabilised, the Collections Recovery Coordinator, should contact the Facilities Coordinator and all Salvage Controllers. In consultation with these members of the Disaster Response Team, the Collections Recovery Coordinator should devise a plan for the Recovery operation. The plan should consider:
- What is the nature and total extent of the damage to the building (fire, smoke, clean water, dirty water, in which Collection areas)?
- Recovery Teams - Can the damaged items be salvaged by the in-house Recovery Team(s), or will outside help be required?
- How many in-house people will be required?
- Who will be in charge of contacting Team members?
- Who will contact external organisations to request assistance?
- What resources are required - What is available in-house? What can be borrowed? What will have to be bought?
- Salvaging priorities;
- Lines of communication, including who talks to the press or who briefs the public relations office to speak to the press; and
- Documenting the incident.