“OPERA” makes worst-case scenarios easier to manage
Small museums and other heritage groups seeking to shore up their defences against the risk of catastrophic loss have a new tool at their disposal. The Organized Emergency Planning and Emergency Response Assistant, or “OPERA” for short, is a planning tool and resources guide developed by QAHN to improve security for community historical sites and collections.
“Security is the most important consideration for administrators of a museum or archives,” said Heather Darch, curator of the Missisquoi Museum. “But it tends to be quite low on the list of priorities. This tool helps heritage supporters confront risks and shows how to prevent emergencies from turning into disasters.”
Each year across Canada, an estimated 30 fires break out in museums, fully a third of which result from break-ins. Flooding is another typical hazard facing historic buildings and collections. Being prepared for these and other crises means, among other things, maintaining a degree of control over the response from members of the local fire department who may otherwise arrive on the scene without accurate knowledge of site or the nature of objects housed inside.
Planning for emergencies provides an opportunity for non-profit museums and heritage groups to relieve overburdened volunteers by asking for support from candidates such as town representatives, firefighters and police. The first step, according to Darch, is to bring together a small group of people willing to devote some time and thought to the planning process.
In addition to providing users with interactive, printable forms for storing and retrieving crucial contact information, OPERA contains basic procedures for managing a variety of threats, a resources guide and an extensive reading list for those who would like to delve more deeply into the extensive literature devoted to emergency management.
Copies of the OPERA CD may be obtained by contacting the QAHN office in Sherbrooke at (819) 564-9595 or toll-free in Quebec, 1-877-964-0409.
To order a copy of this new emergency planning tool, please send $9.00 (which includes s/h) to: QAHN, 400-257, Queen, Sherbrooke, Qc J1M 1K7.
For non-QAHN members, add $2.00 per order. Order while supplies last!