Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery
In every geographical area of the world, there are disasters created by man and nature. While each organization plans for evacuating buildings, protecting people and property, the same care and attention to planning should be placed on the records and cultural history. If information is an important asset, the planning for the protection of the records prior to a disaster is paramount. The Expert Group on Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness (EG-EMDP) was formally established by ICA in 2014.
The Goals and Objectives of EG-EMDP are:
Goal: Coordinate initiatives and exchange good practices in the field of emergency management and disaster preparedness (including Mitigation, Planning, Response, Recovery)
- Objective: work with colleagues in related fields and other responders to achieve this goal
- Objective: coordinate activities between ICA and other organizations such as Blue Shield and others
- Objective: coordinate and collaborate with ICA sections and branches to provide training and workshop materials for archivists and colleagues in preparing for and responding to disasters
- Objective: research and make available existing resources in many different languages
Goal: Facilitate professional mobilization and archival solidarity when disaster strikes
- Objective: liaise with archival and other cultural heritage organizations to respond to disasters when necessary and appropriate
- Objective: promote information sharing between professional organizations regarding lessons learned and capabilities to respond
- Objective: develop a database of lessons learned provided by professional organizations
- Objective: assist in the compilation of disaster plans, case studies, etc. for future dissemination
- Objective: in the event of a disaster, contact the affected institutions to determine their needs to recover as time and effort permits
- Objective: assist ICA in its advocacy for the protection of cultural heritage patrimony
There are four distinct phases in emergency management and disaster preparedness.
Mitigation: Mitigation is the effort to reduce or eliminate long-term risks to life and natural and cultural resources and/or historic properties by lessening the impact of disasters. Mitigation is taking action now—before the next disaster—to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, insuring against risk). Effective mitigation requires that everyone understand local risks, address the hard choices, and invest in long-term community well-being. Without mitigation actions, the safety, financial security and self-reliance of institutions and the long-term viability of collections are jeopardized.
Preparedness: The process and actions that are taken as precautionary measures in the face of potential disasters. These actions can include both physical preparations (such as emergency supplies depots, adapting buildings to survive earthquakes, and taking steps to protect collections) and trainings for emergency action. Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes. This involves “forecasting and taking precautionary measures prior to an imminent threat when advance warnings are possible". This includes not only natural disasters, but all kinds of severe damage caused in a relatively short period, including warfare.
Response: It consists of a number of elements, for example; warning/evacuation, search and rescue, providing immediate assistance, assessing damage, continuing assistance and the immediate restoration of infrastructure. The aim of emergency response is to provide immediate assistance to maintain life, identify the needs of and protecting collections and cultural facilities, and determine what steps will need to be undertaken to ensure the recovery of the affected materials and structures, including the execution of emergency plans and actions to support short-term recovery. The focus in the response phase is on meeting the basic needs of the collections and facilities until more permanent and sustainable solutions can be found.
Recovery: Involves a set of policies and procedures to enable the recovery of archival, library, and/or museum collections following a natural or man-made disaster and to restore regular activities and services after an incident. Disaster recovery focuses on the specific steps needed to remove collections out of harm’s way, stabilize them, and prepare them for rehabilitation over the long term.