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Primeaux COSTEP

Primeaux COSTEP

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08/04/2009

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COSTEP:Coordinated Statewide Emergency Preparedness for Cultural Resources
12
th
US/ICOMOS International aSymposiumNew Orleans, LA, March 14, 2009byAimée Primeaux
Good morning, my name is Aimée Primeaux and I'm the project coordinator for COSTEP, a grant-funded project led by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, MA. I'mhere today to tell you about COSTEP because we believe that it is a flexible model that can be adoptedin any state in the U.S., or indeed country in the world. COSTEP (Coordinated Statewide EmergencyPreparedness for Cultural Resources) is a framework designed to help agencies such as State Libraries,Archives, and Museums, work with emergency managers to prepare for area-wide disasters in theirregions.First a little background. NEDCC is a non-profit regional conservation center specializing in thepreservation of paper-based materials. In addition to a conservation lab, our Field Service Office offerstechnical assistance, workshops, surveys, and a 24/7 disaster assistance hotline. In 2005, afterHurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast we noticed that the State Archives and StateLibrary agencies played major roles in helping coordinate recovery at the local level. Yet, coordinationbetween the agencies, and with MEMA, was difficult in the midst of recovery. As usual, the lessonlearned was that there needed to be better communication both before and after the disaster. We alsosaw this kind of state-level coordination during the flooding in Iowa this past summer, during which theState Historical Society helped coordinate communication and response. Although the focus in theCOSTEP framework tends to be on collections (because of the nature of the grant-funding agency andNEDCC), historic property of all kinds are also included: buildings, monuments, sculpture, landscapes,etc.In 2006, NEDCC, in partnership with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the StateArchives of Massachusetts, was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to create amodel for a statewide disaster plan for essential records and cultural resources. It quickly becameevident that it was impossible to create a model plan that all fifty states could use. Each state is sovastly different from the next, and no one template will work for all of them. So, a framework, onewhich can be adapted to suit each state's needs, seemed more appropriate. We also realized that weneeded to widen the scope to include museums and historic properties. Over the course of the last threeyears we have developed a framework and have tested it in states with vastly different organizationalstructures. Although the framework is still in development, we are currently editing the final documentand expect to post it online, both as a .pdf and a website by the end of summer 2009. COSTEP will befree of charge, and freely adaptable for non-commercial purposes.Since we have a limited amount of time together today, I'm going to focus on explaining just whatCOSTEP is, how it works, and who should be involved. I will also provide some examples from ourpilot states, and explain how COSTEP works with other initiatives which focus on cultural resources.1
 
First, What is COSTEP?COSTEP is a framework, but that's such a vague word...I like to call it an “action plan.” Becausebasically it tells you what to do to get a group of professionals together to prepare for a disaster in yourstate that might affect cultural resources. It helps you bring together cultural institutions and emergencymanagement personnel, and organize state-level emergency preparedness and response for culturalresources. COSTEP recognizes that standard emergency management systems are already in place onthe local, tribal, state, and federal levels, and that cultural resource institutions must work through thisstructure to receive assistance and resources. As we all know, establishing relationships and planningbefore a disaster strikes saves everyone time, money, and stress in the long-run. It is essential to work with emergency managers and utilize the tools already in place for hazard mitigation and risk analysis(why reinvent the wheel?). Throughout the framework we offer resources such as: suggested outcomes,suggested participants, possible objectives, first steps, and discussion topics. We will also provide a“starter kit” for people interested in starting COSTEP in their state, along with a slideshow “template”that can be used as you recruit team members.We understand that the work of coordinating statewide response is daunting, but the good thing is that aCOSTEP program can be built in stages, and worked around busy schedules. No one expects statewidepreparedness to happen over night. It will take time, and should be viewed as a process that willcontinue over time, rather than a project that begins and ends. Ideally, the COSTEP process willproduce mitigation and response plans that can be integrated into existing state and local emergencyplans and updated over time. The effort should be organized by a team of professionals from across thecultural and emergency management communities. We envision leadership coming from the StateLibrary/Museum/Archives agencies (although it is really up to each state to decide who will take thelead). They will then assemble a team which might includ emergency managers, historic preservationofficers, FEMA representatives, local libraries, archives, musuems or historic homes, private oracademic institutions, historic sites.COSTEP’s Primary Goals
 
Build relationships between emergency managers and culturalresource institutions at the state, regional, and local levels.
 
Educate cultural resource institutions about standard emergencymanagement systems, and educate emergency managers about thediversity and needs of cultural collections.
 
Develop procedures to facilitate emergency response andrecovery for cultural resources in the event of a state, regional, or localdisaster, and incorporate them into existing state emergency responseplans.
 
Conduct risk mitigation activities to reduce the effect of disasterson cultural resource collections statewide, and incorporate them intoexisting state mitigation plans.
 
Enable better coordination between neighboring states in disasters2
 
that cross state lines, or when help might arrive more quickly from acrossstate linesTo help you along the way we’ve organized COSTEP around five components:
 
Getting Started 
– Getting started is sometimes the hardest part. This component explains whoshould be included, how to identify existing resources, and set initial goals.
 
 Building Key Relationships
– Establishing relationships with key personnel in your state is oneof the most important steps. This component encourages discussion and interaction, focusing onraising awareness of similarities and differences among agencies/institutions, and on buildingrelationships.
 
 Mitigating Risks
– Emergency management agencies conduct risk assessments within eachstate. This component considers existing risk assessments; component hazards are identified,risks are analyzed, and strategies are determined for mitigating those risks statewide.
 
Preparing for Response
– Focusing on preparation for the response and recovery phases of anemergency, this section is at the heart of the project. A timely and organized response willensure human safety as well as proper salvage of collections.
 
Sustaining the Process
– This section includes training, and other ways to sustain the processover time.For each component, we offer: Objectives, First Steps, Topics for Discussion, and Resources. TheCOSTEP team is also asked to come up with a list of Outcomes and Products for various stages of theprocess: essential, enhanced and excellent. So, in the beginning, you will work toward only the most“essential” goals for each component. For example, a list of “Essential” outcomes for the “KeyRelationships” component might be:
 
Written list of participants
 
Revised mission statement for the COSTEP initiative, approved by the participants.
 
Date(s) for additional meetings of this group.While the “Enhanced” outcomes might include:
 
Detailed, written plan for proceeding with statewide emergency planning for cultural resources(e.g., prioritized issues to address, committee structure for the planning effort, future meetingschedule, and participants for future meetings).
 
Website or wiki to communicate information about the activities of the emergency planninggroup to individual institutions/organizations within the state.Case studies, tabletop exercises, a glossary, and sample agendas are also included, as well as an initialassessment, which can help the steering committee determine how to begin the process. COSTEP isnot a “fill-in-the-blank” template, but instead an action plan designed to help you set up a system thatwill work in your state.In Massachusetts we have seen the group progress by leaps and bounds. Although there was a historyof emergency preparedness for cultural resources, the COSTEP Massachusetts meetings have givenrepresentatives from federal, state, and local levels in both the cultural and emergency managementcommunities the opportunity to get to know one another. MEMA(Mass. Emergency ManagementAgency) has sent representatives to every meeting and is currently helping to create a form for publiclibraries to give to their Emergency Management Director, so that information on their building andcollections might be entered into their municipality's CEMP (Comprehensive Emergency Management3

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