The National Heritage Responders (NHR) - formerly AIC-CERT - is a volunteer program designed to assist collecting institutions on an emergency basis. Team members can provide advice and referrals by phone or by email. Onsite assistance, as funds are available, typically is limited to one or two days of assessment, organization of salvage efforts, and recommendations for follow-up care of affected collections. Larger scale salvage or treatment of damaged items should normally be done by paid professionals – insurance or government emergency funds are typically available to support these kinds of post-disaster needs.
My personal collection was affected by a disaster. Can you help me?
NHR members are happy to provide advice to individuals as well as institutions. We do not normally provide on-site assistance to individuals, although it may be possible to do so in conjunction with other collections in an affected region. Individuals can reach NHR at: NHRpublichelpline@culturalheritage.org
What does it cost to use NHR services?
There is no cost to the affected institution. NHR members volunteer their expertise and time; FAIC supports their travel costs. The host institution may need to purchase supplies for re-housing or drying of collections.
Where do the funds come from?
The initial training of the NHR teams in 2007 was funded by a grant to FAIC by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS later allowed an extension and expansion of that grant to support deployment of team members and purchase of supplies in Iowa and Galveston in 2008. A second IMLS grant funded additional training in 2011, continued training for existing team members, and outreach to the museum community. FAIC raises funds from individuals, corporations, and foundations to pay for administration and travel costs.
For how long can a team be at my institution?
There is no set length of time, but typical deployments are three to four days in length, with visits to several institutions scheduled within that time. One or two days per institution is normal.
Can you provide treatment work on damaged collections?
That is usually beyond the scope of our volunteer work. Beyond immediate “triage” steps that may be possible by NHR teams, treatment should be done by a paid conservator. You can locate a conservator with the necessary expertise by using the “Find a Conservator” database on the AIC website.
I need an estimate of the damage to our collections in order to file an insurance or FEMA claim. Can you help?
Yes, NHR teams have trained in assessment techniques and use a specially-developed assessment system. These reports can be used by your institution to generate an estimate of restoration or replacement costs.
Is there a directory of NHR members?
In order to protect the time of our volunteers, we do not offer a public directory of NHR members. However, by contacting NHR by phone or email, we can refer you to a NHR member with the expertise and availability to assist in your particular situation.
How fast can NHR respond?
The NHR hotline is available 24/7, although you may not always reach a volunteer immediately. If a team member is available near your location, he or she may be able to make a site visit within hours. On-site team visits typically require at 2 to 3 days to arrange. In most regional disasters, civil authorities (rightly) give priority to public health and safety and to infrastructure, so it is often several days before even employees of an institution can gain safe access to their buildings.