Spring RRN Newsletter 2016
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Rapid Response Network Newsletter

Please share this email with colleagues in your organisation, it contains useful links for the RRN and will help to make more people aware of the important resources provided by the network.

We hope this finds you well and enjoying the onset of spring. If you or a colleague would like to be more involved with the RRN, please get in touch! If you know of anyone in your organisation who is looking to add to their CPD and develop new skills, please forward this newsletter on.

Please do write to us at to submit case studies and information about how you manage your emergency planning; all of this is useful for other members. 

The RRN kit and training is there for members to prepare for emergencies and hopefully minimise damage to collections.
We hope that you won't need to use the kits, but if you do you can find all of the member information on our website . Please keep us up-to-date with any changes to the contacts for your organisation by e-mailing:

Thank you for supporting the RRN; we couldn't function without your important memberships.
RRN Committee

Even though its spring and thoughts are turning to the long, (hopefully) sunny days ahead, it's worth remembering that the flood devastation that hit the region at Christmas time isn't confined to winter. There's increasing evidence of extreme daily rainfall rates - remember the summer floods of 2007? 
RRN can provide access to emergency kits, but it's worth considering organisations – even non-heritage ones - you can buddy up with in your local area who can give immediate help, be it an extra pair of hands or space for drying wet collections. Keep the details of any local arrangements in your emergency plan along your RRN emergency contacts and don’t forget to keep them updated


RRN Skills and Training Questionnaire
In January you should have received a short skills and training questionnaire. This was a chance to feed back to the RRN committee on how we can deliver the training that members want and need as well as facilitate the sharing of skills and knowledge more effectively. If you did not receive this questionnaire and would like to feed back please email After a faltering start, we received some interesting data that will be helpful in future planning. With thanks to all the respondents and the committee, especially Rachel Greenwood for collating the responses. Rachel reports below on the survey outcome.

The purpose of this questionnaire is twofold,
a: help identify and prioritise training sessions and the provision of self-help guides
b: determine what skills the network can draw on to keep the membership informed and connected.
17 members responded out of a membership of 48. 35.41%
Question 1
Please select your top three training sessions, the most important being number one and the least important being number three
  1 2 3 Total
RRN disaster kit training /refresher 4 2 3 9
Writing a disaster plan   2 1 3
Members’ interactive day on disaster planning – e.g. short talks by members; question and answer session 2   1 3
Disaster response training – hands on salvage in a mock disaster environment 4 3 2 9
Training the trainer – techniques for training and engaging staff and volunteers with emergency planning 5 5   10
Table top exercise - how to run a table top exercise allowing staff opportunity to think through emergency reactions 2 3   5
Dealing with specialists e.g. insurance companies, emergency services        
Talks from members who have been involved in a disaster situation 1 1 5 7
Emergency prevention and preparedness including risk assessment, security, building maintenance etc. 1   1 2
Integrated pest management including quarantining procedures     3 3
Managing hazardous collections        

Are there other topics you would like covered by the training program? Please list and give brief details in the box below.
All the above would be really useful! Salvage of audio-visual, digital materials. Help with selecting equipment – exchange of experience.
Question 2a
The RRN endeavour to provide free training, if the cost of a full day’s training session meant that we had to set a charge, would you be willing/able to attend
Yes 16 94.11%
No 1 5.88%
Question 2b
If you were able to attend a chargeable full day’s training session what would you consider to be an acceptable amount to pay?
       £0 - £20 5 29.41%
£20 - £40 10 58.82%
  £40 - £60 1 5.88%
Question 3
Which day of the week is the most convenient for you to attend a training session?
    Monday 5 29.41%
    Tuesday 4 23.52%
Wednesday 2 11.76%
    Thursday 2 11.76%
    Friday 1 5.88%
Any 6 35.29%

Question 4
Which of the following would be of most use to you if it was available on the RRN website, please tick all that apply
Kit equipment instructions on the use of individual pieces of equipment 14 82.35%    
Tips and instructions on the use of materials in the kit, such as Tyvek 13 76.47%    
Video footage from practical training events 12 70.58%    
Other please specify
A more detailed list of the contents of the kit with photographs.
Skills Share
The network benefits from members sharing their experience and skills
Could your organisation provide a staff member to sit on a working group to develop the RRN website? N- 14
Would you be prepared to contribute content for the RRN website N-8
Do you hold in-house disaster training, if so would you be willing to open this training to the RRN membership, if so how many could you host?
Y- 3
Would you be willing to contribute a case study for the RRN newsletter? N=-9
Would you be willing to deliver a talk or training session at a RRN meeting (if so, please supply details below)? N-13
My organisation/I would be willing to…..
Host training sessions (from October 2016).
We would be willing and hope to take part in any training offered by the RRN but
unfortunately at present we are not in a position to offer any specific expertise.
Rotherham also currently holds 1 of the 4 disaster kits and undertakes annual audits
Recovery of wet objects day at Shipley Stores.
My organisation would be willing to share and offer help and advice to other organisations.
Run Kit familiarisation training.
My organisation/I would be willing to…..Practical salvage techniques
Museums and archives are currently investigating joint training sessions so RRN could be included in these, but we are constantly postponing them due to work commitments.  It will happen but not sure when.
Cooperative help
One of the strengths of the Rapid Response Network is the reciprocal help offered by the membership at times of disaster recovery, could your organisation help with
Conservation advice 6 35.29%
Physical help 9 52.94%
Alerting other RRN members 8 47.05
Social Media
Do you use Yes No
FaceBook 9
Twitter 8
If not where do you get your information from?
Online, websites etc, Museum Forum Meetings.
Museum website, conservation website, Yorkshire fed.
Email, internet.
Email, Newsletters.
MA e-mails, MDY e-mails.
Training, Web, professional contacts/networking
Please add any other comments below.
We are currently closed for building work and will not be up and running until later this year.

My skill share answers are all No, due to we are very low on staff and we really do not have the time to do these extra tasks.
If members are willing to help others in emergencies, we should maybe compile list of out-of-office contacts so that we can get hold of each other outside work time?.

The Floods at Armley and Thwaite Mills

Both sites flooded overnight on 26th – 27th December 2015 when the River Aire burst its banks due to a deluge of rain.  This was reported on the news when the public were evacuated from the nearby VUE cinema near Armley Mills.  The highest point of water ingress that we measured on either site was around 8ft, about 14ft above normal river level and a long way above the previous record set in the 1860’s.
Both sites are prone to minor flooding so our staff are well versed with procedures, we always have sandbags and pressure washers on the ready.  Also the exhibitions are designed in such a way that nothing could be easily damaged by floods.  This has been a necessity from previous experience.   However, this flood was unprecedented in the scale and devastation from previous years.

Flood level at Armley Mills
© Leeds Museums and Galleries

Both sites receive flood alerts via email and text, and both sites were visited by staff during the day on Boxing day. We are lucky to have a member of staff living on site at Thwaite Mills, so the extent of the flooding on site was continually monitored.  An additional feature at Thwaite is the residential moorings which would cause a lot of concern during the early hours of the morning on the 27th December. 
At Thwaite Mills the river reached its peak at approximately 2am to 4am on the morning of the 27th. The river burst through the lock just above Thwaite Mills and flooded the site from the canal side as well as the river side, something that has never happened before.  At around 4am the fire brigade had to evacuate the residential moorings, just in time as six boats were swept away.
Flood level at Armley Mills
© Leeds Museums and Galleries

The clean-up on both sites had to wait until the water levels had dropped which was on the 29th December.  Only then could a safe assessment and clean up begin and realisation set in to the extent of the disaster.
The immediate issues were no power at Armley Mills and the loss of boats and the unsafe moorings at Thwaite Mills that prevented people from returning to their homes. Once the moorings had been made secure, which took several days, staff could then properly focus on other matters on site.

Debris at Thwaite Water Mill
© Leeds Museums and Galleries

Site staff at both Armley and Thwaite Mills started by digging out an awful lot of slit, whilst curatorial colleagues assessed the damage to collections.  Areas had to be sanitised before our teams could safely access some spaces.  It’s hard to describe everything that has happened to enable both sites to re-open in part.   But all of it is down to the dedication and hard work of the site teams and staff throughout the service who have been on hand to move objects, clean, assess or just as moral support.  There is still however a long way to go stripping down and cleaning out loco’s and other large objects, but rather than look at this as a disaster we see it as an opportunity, although one we were not actively looking for.
Silt at Thwaite Water Mill
© Leeds Museums and Galleries

The knock on effect of having no power to Museums that are sited over or next to running water is the removal of displays not flooded as the humidity within the display spaces has peaked.  With help from our conservator, items from display were removed and take to another location, these have now been returned.  It was not just objects that were struck but also our commercial stock and people’s homes.  As of the 22nd March both our sites are now partially opened, but we still have a long way to go.
Sarah Barton
Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills and Thwaite Mills
It needn’t be a stretch!
Cheap and easy stretchers can be made for recovery of long items such as rolled plans in the event of an emergency, or just to aid transit of collections in calmer times.
We have always had stretchers in our disaster recovery kit at West Yorkshire Archive Service, but made of sewn, heavy duty canvas – rather like a camp bed. A simple, light and cheap version can be also be made using plastic tubing bought from the plumbing department at a DIY store and either plastic tubing or stapled polythene sheeting. A shorter version can be made which can be held by one person, useful for carrying small items which require support. And they don’t take up much space in storage.
Thanks to our volunteers Josh Banks and Mike Thompson for modelling the stretcher.

Thanks to Shirley Jones, Head of Conservation, West Yorkshire Archive Services for this piece.

Do you have a top tip to share, or a suggestion for training? Please get in touch!



The RRN is about working co-operatively and sharing experience for the benefit of all members. ‘Meet the Membership’ is a chance for you to share news of emergency planning developments or innovations or anything else you think members would be interested to hear. Don’t wait to be invited! Please send your submissions for future newsletters to:

Don't forget to follow us on twitter! @YorksRRN
We won't respond to this in an emergency though so make sure you have the RRN contacts handy.
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