Recent floods have put museum collections, heritage buildings and archives at risk – the training that Blue Shield France (BSF) does with emergency response services, authorities and volunteers to ensure the safe evacuation and protection of collections and archives is proving invaluable. But their focus is not simply on emergency response, it is also on the all-important team building skills and practical preparation that need to be taught and set in place before disasters occur.

In discussion with the emergency services, BSF has developed logistics kits with differently sized Blue Shield self-adhesive labels to show which special collections documents need to be moved during an emergency, and to facilitate the evacuation of personnel. Small-sized labels can be used to mark shelves, and larger-sized ones be put in corridors to indicate where priority collections are located.

Library or document storage shelves. The ends of the racks have blue shield stickers on them.

Photo: Blue Shield France worked with the emergency services to develop blue shield stickers of different sizes to mark special collections for evacuation in a crisis © Blue Shield France, 2021

Simulation exercises with the fire and other rescue services during training courses are also a regular part of BSF’s activities, and help to put theory into practice in preparation for real emergencies.

Playmobile museum with blue shiels over hte entrance and a small playmobile figure inside with a hard hat on, with a blue shield on the hat

Photo: Blue Shield ‘Playmobil mini-museum’, created by Valerie Luquet of Blue Shield France, to support training and education, © V. Luquet, Blue Shield France, 2021

One of BSF’s most innovative projects involves creating educational games about cultural heritage, and disaster response. They can be played during training with heritage protection professionals, volunteers, and young people, to help build on existing skills and introduce new ones. They can also simply be played for fun! The games aim to promote team building, and encourage exploration and innovation. According to BSF member Valerie Luquet who created the games, they are still a work in progress and aim to “help players think about the response to emergencies so that the whole team can find solutions to problems whilst adapting to the many unforeseen things that can happen during a crisis.”

In today’s climate of uncertainty and stress due to COVID-19, play can bring pleasure and a moment of escape, Valerie says, whilst at the same time helping people to gain useful knowledge and skills. She would be happy to share information with anyone who would be interested to know more about the heritage games she has created, which include a puzzle, the use of building blocks, a game with labels and a card game. One of the most delightful creations is this Blue Shield ‘Playmobil mini-museum’.

Valerie can be contacted at: [email protected]

Group of people,. mostly with back to the camera, in white hard hats and blue high-vis vests hunched over plastic tables. The bests have blue shields on the backs.

Photo: Exercise showing joint action between attendees and the county fire brigade at a 3 day workshop carried out by the Blue Shield France © Blue Shield France

Blue Shield France has also produced practical steps for monitoring the safety and security of  collections during a lockdown – a new and comprehensive guide in French, English, Spanish and Italian is available on their website.

Visit Blue Shield France (Bouclier Bleu)’s website or follow them on Twitter

See more about the logistic kits on BS France’s website

For more detailed information on the simulation exercises, see this article (in French) on the website of the Institut des Risques Majeurs (IRMa)