Russell C. Coile
Techniques for recovery of valuable records: Today, so much is restorable
that the question is no longer what can we save but what is worthwhile to
save. It is only cost-effective to restore items that can't be replaced or
reproduced, or where originals are required by law. A recovery expert can
confi rm restorability and help set priorities.
Order of recovery: Prior to a disaster, there should be at least a
rudimentary plan for the order of recovery. When multiple department
records are damaged, confl icts may arise at the disaster scene over whose
records are most time-critical. With the mitigation clock ticking, the time of
impact is not the time to determine recovery priorities.
Timely Emergency Response: Technologies now exist to restore most
forms of vital records. A crucial factor determining restorability is an effective
emergency response that stabilizes the items and keeps restoration options
open. Paper and other forms of vital records deteriorate rapidly when wet
or contaminated, and mitigation steps must be implemented immediately.
Especially in cases where the quantity of records is so great that pack-
out may take days, the ambient conditions of the environment in which
they're housed need to be brought under control quickly. When humidity
and temperature levels are elevated, degradation of paper is rapidly
accelerated. To stabilize the environment, humidity levels must be brought
to 40 percent or less and temperatures to 70° F or less. If a signifi cant
portion of the building is wet and it's 90° F outside, this is no small feat.
The restoration contractor will have temporary temperature and humidity
control equipment available to achieve these conditions. If operational, the
mechanical systems in the building may also be used.
Vendor Pre-Appointment: It is especially prudent to have a pre-
appointed restoration contractor who has experience restoring vital records.
In the heat of the battle, the decisions which need to be made regarding
disposition and restoration of records will come fast and furious. During
the crucial hours immediately following a crisis, having a pre-loss vendor
relationship and recovery strategy goes a long way. The following mitigation
suggestions are offered to help recovery personnel through the immediate
moments following an event.
Water-Damaged Media: Since 90 percent of all disasters involve
moisture from fl oods or fi re suppression, water damage mitigation steps
for various media are as follows:
Coile Techniques for recovery of valuable records: Today, so much is restorable that the question is no longer what can we save but what is worthwhile to save. Timely Emergency Response: Technologies now exist to restore most forms of vital records. Vendor Pre-Appointment: It is especially prudent to have a pre- appointed restoration contractor who has experience restoring vital records.