Museum of Southwestern Biology

Emergency Preparedness Policy

The basis for this Policy is to provide guidelines in emergency situations and to reduce the adverse effects to collections and personnel in the event of an emergency. This policy will identify potential emergencies, provide a high level of preparedness for emergencies in order to reduce adverse effects to collections and personnel, and outline areas for further policy development for each divisional emergency plan. 

Potential emergencies include damage to the collections or personnel due to fire, flooding, power failure, earthquake, weather damage, or human factors such as vandalism, theft, or civil disorder. In the event of a disaster, personnel (Museum staff and emergency personnel) on the scene must follow the MSB and divisional emergency preparedness and disaster plan (in preparation). 

Specific risk areas are those that contain flammable materials, are in a poor location (such as a basement or near windows), or have poor storage designs (unstable shelving or malfunctioning cases). Sensitive collections (such as cryovouchers), valuable specimens (Types, endangered species, furs, ivory), and documentation are all areas in need of continual risk assessment.

Some methods of reducing risk include location of specimens in buildings that are dedicated to house museum collections. The physical structures and equipment housing specimens must be disaster-resistant. Staff are urged to advise the MSB Director of inadequate collection care due to building placement, placement of collection areas within buildings, or poor physical structure of the facilities. 

Mitigation strategies include proper training of all MSB personnel including instructing personnel of all available resources (expertise, alternative storage areas, supplies and equipment for disasters, and medical, fire, and security services) for emergency preparedness.

Recovery strategies include establishing authorities, identifying secure specimen holding areas, and developing methods to assess damage. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History is an alternative site for partial safe specimen storage. Other collections and experts who have had experience with disasters will be consulted for both recovery and assessment of damaged collections. Collection staff from other collections will be contacted to help in disaster recovery and to assist in short-term replacement of supplies. All steps of the recovery process will be documented by written descriptions and photographs. It is advisable for each division to maintain a photo record of current collection areas for use after a disaster.

University-wide emergency preparedness information in available on the Emergency Management webpage.