RRN Emergency Kit Training Day 9th June

Yesterday I attended the Rapid Response Network familiarisation and training day in Saltaire with two colleagues from the library and I had a great day. It was lovely to get out of Bradford and visit sunny Saltaire and we were a little bit too impressed with the fancy trains running out of Bradford Forster Square station. We’re used to travelling on trains that have come straight out of the 1980s. However we weren’t on a trainspotting day out so we quickly curbed our excitement.

The purpose of the day was to familiarise ourselves with the emergency kit provided by the Rapid Response Network in the event of an emergency. (http://www.rapidresponsenetwork.org.uk/index.htm )

The RRN is a network of heritage organisations with collections in the region providing information and resources which aim to improve preparedness and emergency planning in the archives/ libraries/ museums sector. For a modest subscription fee they provide training opportunities and access to emergency disaster equipment which would be absolutely invaluable if a disaster occurred in your organisation. They also have a network of people who can be called upon to assist if the worst did happen.

The range of equipment you would probably need should you be hit by a fire or a flood is massive. In order to be safe and to make sure the collections can be salvaged and removed safely, you need boxes and boxes of equipment ranging from standard health and safety equipment such as gloves, waterproofs, dust masks, hi-vis vests, wellies, helmets etc to salvage equipment; polythene sheets, plastic crates, bubblewrap, blotting paper, paper towels, freezer bags, trolleys, heavy duty plastic, tools, all of which would cost a fortune should you not have access to them. There are other things in the equipment boxes which you might not immediately think about during an emergency such as clipboards, pens, headlamps and batteries! They can also offer free access to expensive but really useful in an emergency pieces of equipment such as a generator, a gazebo, water pumps and vacuums.

We were able to see a makeshift disaster site for ourselves and have a go at salvaging materials (no museum items were harmed during the making of this).

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Please excuse the terrible photography: Here we have our mini disaster which is a flooded area where a wide range of materials have been affected (magazines, books, photographs, costumes, rocks etc…)

We were split into 2 teams. One team were tasked with recovering the materials from the flood and dealing with the flood zone and the other team were attempting to treat and salvage the materials. The biggest problem I found was that it was so easy just to dive in (pun not intended) and start unpacking the materials. You feel a dire sense of urgency when what could possibly be an invalubale item has been damaged. Without the correct knowledge on how to deal with different types of materials such as textiles, books, photographs and paintings you could end up doing more harm than good. I would like to learn more on how to deal with individual materials because I had no prior experience in handling damaged photographs and costumes. You definitely need a plan in place before you do anything and take lots and lots of photographs! You need to triage the damaged stock and prioritise what you are going to save first and this requires excellent communication between all parties involved in the disaster response team. We noticed early on that the teams were working in isolation, we weren’t communicating with each other and we didn’t have a plan and this would not be helpful in an emergency. We thought this was possibly because these items were not part of our own collections and we didn’t fully understand what we were working with therefore we were unable to fully prioritise our workload.

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Here are our attempts at salvaging a costume and spats. The costume would have definitelty required extensive restoration as black dye had bled all over it 😦 Horrible!

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Drying out our sodden photographs and grouping like with like. Never touch the front surface and don’t allow the surface to come into contact with another surface!

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Here is our wind tunnel for drying out wet books – thanks Martin and Katherine!

The crucial bits of information I took away with me were;

  1. Do not panic and don’t rush into it – if your collection has been flooded it’s already happened and damage will have already occurred and you do not want to make it worse by rushing into it without a plan.
  2. Have a plan and communicate – you need a proper emergency plan in place and you need someone who can communicate with all of the disaster team to make sure everyone is working together and knows what they are doing.

Finally, I hope that all of the disaster equipment stays firmly in the stores and that no one should need it because a disaster of any magnitude would be horrendous for all involved. However, it’s good practice to be prepared and knowing this network exists means that all of our collections can be a little bit safer.

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GO TEAM ROYAL BLUE!

This will be a brief overview of the VC’s End of Year Celebration Tournament which myself and various other staff members from the university took part in. The tournament last year was a great success so once again staff and students were invited to participate in an afternoon of sports and games. Staff and students from across the university put teams together and prepared to represent their colour.

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T-shirt for all of the various teams.

I jumped at the chance to be involved in the library and IT services team because it’s been years since I’ve played team sports of any kind and I loved sports days when I was at school (wasn’t a star sportswoman or anything but I always gave it a go). Plus I heard a rumour that there was a free BBQ which meant I was so in! There were loads of people involved and the build up to the day had hashtags flying all over campus supporting the various teams and creating some friendly competition. We were Team Royal Blue and we had some have some fantastic support from the library and IT services cheerleaders. Members of staff who weren’t competing donned their royal blue finery and braved the cold to cheer us on.

It was great to get the whole team and our supporters together before the events started and here we are in all our glory.

Team RB

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We had support from far and wide! 

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We also had the support of UoB Special Collections! 

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Myself and other team members prepared ourselves with war paint and pretty blue ribbons and that was all we needed because our physical prowess would speak for itself out in the field/ on the court… We participated in different games with a mish mash of students/ staff in each event. Games included rounders, swimming, rowing, football, wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball, squash (we had a master squash player, it was epic), darts, climbing and tug of war. We did exceptionally well in squash, climbing and rounders, secured a couple of draws here and there and suffered one or two defeats but we didn’t care, we celebrated when we lost – now that’s team spirit right there!

It was lovely to have some down time and silliness with staff and to interact with students outside of the professional setting after what has been a busy year for everyone. This has definitely been one of the highlights of my traineeship. Obviously not in terms of gaining valuable library experience but in terms of working in a university setting, with a huge staff and student body, getting involved and feeling like a valued member of #TeamBradford. And that is really what the day is all about. Getting staff and students to interact outside of the normal frameworks, creating interactions which will hopefully add to the student experience. If you feel that the staff and the support networks in place are made up of “normal” people that that are willing to publicly humiliate themselves attempting to play sports, it is so much easier to ask them for help. The best thing was celebrating the fact that the students have made it to the end of the academic year. Because that is ultimately why we are all here, to help and support students through their academic careers and to share in their celebrations is a great way for all to end the year.

Below you can see our team captains flexing before their epic climbing attemps.

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 Here is the team playing wheelchair rugby which is so much fun!

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And here we are trying our best to win tug of war – I loved it even though I wasn’t very good at it 😀
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We came a triumphant fifth which we were all super impressed with! It was a great day, we all had fun and I am very thankful that I could be involved. GO TEAM BRADFORD and good luck to all of our students!

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