Building a relationship with local Office of Emergency Management personnel and learning more about how they work can be a great benefit to cultural institutions. In September a group of a dozen people from different museums and related organizations around Philly were able to visit the headquarters of the Philadelphia’s OEM. Viewing the facilities gave us a better idea of the logistics and interaction between all the many people who can respond to a given emergency.
Lynn Fisher, Community Preparedness Program Manager, welcomed the group and started off the afternoon by providing information on the Region Integration Center at the OEM. The RIC monitors Police, Fire, and Airport radios, weather conditions etc. to be ready if a situation reaches the threshold for an OEM response. OEM staff take turns being on call so that they are ready to mobilize 24/7 – emergencies don’t often occur during a 9-5 Monday through Friday schedule.
This introduction was followed by a description of a specific incident as a case study for how emergency response works. The number of agencies and people can vary drastically, and coordinating possibly hundreds of responders can impact not only the site of the emergency, but a number of blocks around it. Even after first responders complete their tasks, the staff of the OEM may continue to work as the impact of an incident can take weeks or months to fully resolved.
After the introduction Detective Joseph Rovnan took us through a slide-show of an active shooter drill. The detective and others work with many institutions on security and active shooter drills including cultural institutions. The entire group was interested and we had an layered discussion of the pros and cons of drills.
After the talks, the group was given a quick tour of the facilities including the room where mobilized staff and representatives of responders gather during an incident, the space where OEM staff monitor daily conditions, and the 911 call center.