Disaster Preparedness Workshop in Fiji

This past week I conducted a Disaster Preparedness Workshop at the National Archives of Fiji (NAF) in Suva, Fiji. About fifteen participants took advantage of this opportunity to learn about disaster planning for their archives and libraries. Most of the participants were from NAF, however, there were a couple of attendees from the National Museum of Fiji, the Library Services of Fiji, as well as the director of the National Archives of Tuvalu.

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The outcome of the workshop was to have the participant learn about a ten step process on developing their own disaster plan for their respective organisations. The theme of the workshop was to be proactive. In fact, the staff of the NAF took the workshop a step further, became proactive, and developed their plan during the same week.

The workshop ran from 9am to noon, Monday through Wednesday. On Day 1 we concentrated on the first four steps of the plan that included: Writing the Introduction, Risk Assessment, Reducing the Risks and Establishing Support Networks. The group worked on a couple of exercises and spent a lot of time on assessing their internal and external risks of their organisations.

Day 2 of the workshop focused on Disaster Response, and we examined steps five through seven. These included, Establishing a Disaster Response Team, Vital Records, and Preparing a Disaster Response Plan. The main exercise for this day focused on identifying vital records of the participant’s organisations. We looked at assessing both government and cultural records.

Finally, on Day 3 we concentrated on Disaster Recovery, step eight, and also added the last two step of the disaster plan. These included, Training the Staff and Reviewing the Plan. The Disaster Recovery portion of the workshop also included a hands-on exercise on How to Handle Wet Material. For this exercise I brought plastic tubs full of different kinds of material such as, paper documents, VHS, photographs, microfilm, CDs, and books. I then filled the tubs with water, and together, we went through the process on salvaging each material.

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I would like to graciously thank the National Archives of Fiji for hosting the event, and providing tea-time snacks, as well as providing a delicious Fijian lunch for the participants at the end of each day. I would also like to sincerely thank the attendees of the workshop for their participation and the desire to be prepared.

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