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National Heritage Responders

Is an Emergency Affecting your Collection? 

Is an emergency (such as a natural or manmade disaster) affecting your institution? Call our response team 24/7 at 202-661-8068.  
Learn more here.

Courses in Emergency Management for Cultural Heritage Responders

Emergency preparedness and response in the cultural heritage field require ongoing commitment to training and education. No two emergency incidents are the same; the more you know and experience, the more effective you will be in any situation.

Conservators and cultural heritage professionals bring specialized knowledge about the physical nature and social value of cultural materials to a response effort, but it is important to receive training on the proper salvage and recovery of cultural materials.

It is equally important to know how to function as a responder within the existing framework of local, county, tribal, state, and federal response systems. This is valuable information whether you are responding to emergencies within your community or nationwide.

All emergencies have some common elements that need to be understood in order to minimize loss and respond most effectively, including:

  • communications based on emergency networks and official response structure(s)
  • access to resources, including:
    • experienced or trained labor,
    • supplies
    • critical equipment and services such as transport, storage space, etc.
  • recognition that civil authorities may temporarily be in charge of institutions affected by the emergency.

Cultural heritage responders should be aware of the networks that exist for responding to emergencies and familiar with the mechanisms for working with them collaboratively and effectively. The free courses listed below will teach you official protocols and structure, terminology, and key local contacts for emergency response, whether you are assisting your own institution or serving as part of a volunteer team. 

All the online courses below are available free through  

Essential for All Responders

IS-100 - Introduction to Incident Command System

As an introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS), this course provides the foundation for higher level ICS training. This course describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). (0.3 CEU; approximately 3 hours)

Important for Regional Response

ICS-200 - ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents 

ICS 200 is designed to enable personnel to operate efficiently during an incident or event within the Incident Command System (ICS). ICS-200 provides training and resources for personnel who are likely to assume a supervisory position within the ICS. (0.3 CEU; approximately 3 hours)

IS-546 - Continuity of Operations (COOP) Awareness Course

The one-hour Continuity of Operations (COOP) Awareness course is designed for all public sector employees. The course provides a fundamental understanding of COOP, terms, objectives, and benefits to public sector departments and agencies. It gives a brief overview of the elements of a viable COOP capability. This awareness course provides information on how a COOP event might affect employees, the department/agency, and an employee's family. (0.1 CEU; approximately 1 hour)

IS-700 - National Incident Management System (NIMS), Introduction


The NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to act in concert during domestic incidents. This course explains the purpose, principles, key components, and benefits of NIMS. It also contains "Planning Activity" screens giving you an opportunity to practice some planning tasks. (0.3 CEU; approximately 3 hours)

IS-800 - A National Response Framework (NRF), Introduction

The National Response Framework, or NRF, describes how the federal government will work in concert with local, county, tribal, and state governments and the private sector to respond to disasters. This course introduces the NRF. It is intended for DHS and other Federal staff responsible for implementing the NRF, and local, county, tribal, state, and private sector emergency management professionals. (0.3 CEU; approximately 3 hours)

Helpful to Response Team Leaders

IS-230 - Principles of Emergency Management (I) 

This course is designed to provide a basic framework for understanding emergency management in the following areas: an overview of the integrated emergency management system; the emergency management cycle; the plan as the program centerpiece; functions of an emergency management program; emergency management program participants; and applying emergency management principles. (1.0 CEU; approximately 10 hours)

IS-235 - Emergency Planning

The ability to use all the basic elements of the planning process gives emergency managers and planners a basis for working together to shape the community’s disaster response to all types of hazards and problems. This course is designed to provide common experience of a properly structured Emergency Operations Plan in the following areas: the planning process; hazard analysis; the basic plan; annexes and appendices; and implementing instructions (1.0 CEU; approximately 10 hours)

IS-240 - Leadership and Influence 

Being able to lead others (to motivate them to commit their energies and expertise to achieving the shared mission and goals of the emergency management system) is a vital part of every emergency manager’s, planner’s, and responder’s job. This course is designed to improve your leadership and influence skills. It addresses leadership from within; how to facilitate change; how to build and rebuild trust; using personal influence and political savvy, and fostering an environment for leadership development. (0.9 CEU; approximately 9 hours)

IS-244 - Developing and Managing Volunteers 

This course is for emergency managers and related professionals working with all types of volunteers and coordinating with voluntary agencies. This course will provide procedures and tools for building and working with voluntary organizations. Topics include benefits and challenges of using volunteers; building a volunteer program; writing job descriptions; developing volunteers through recruitment; coordinating with voluntary agencies and community-based organizations; and special issues such as spontaneous volunteers, liability, and stress. (1.0 CEU; approximately 10 hours)

Additional Courses of Interest

IS-241 - Decision Making and Problem Solving - Professional Development Series 

This course is designed to improve your decision-making skills. It addresses the decision-making process; decision-making styles; attributes of an effective decision maker; and ethical decision making and problem solving. (0.8 CEU; approximately 8 hours)

IS-242 - Effective Communication - Professional Development Series 

This course is designed to improve your communication skills. It addresses basic communication skills; how to communicate in an emergency; how to identify community-specific communication issues; how to use technology as a communication tool; effective oral communication; and how to prepare an oral presentation (0.8 CEU; approximately 8 hours)

IS-253 - Coordinating Environmental and Historic Preservation Compliance

This course provides an overview of FEMA's environmental and historic preservation compliance responsibilities and is an independent study alternative to the 4-day E/L253 course held at the Emergency Management Institute or regional offices. The course is designed to provide the user with the basic background and practical knowledge needed to participate in FEMA's environmental and historic preservation review process; and help the user understand how the environmental and historic preservation review process applies to various job responsibilities. (1.0 CEU; approximately 10 hours)