Post Event follow-up is an important element of EM & BC planning. The results should be used to inform opportunities for plan re-address training and exercising. It also assists in bring some closure to the event for those involved and can demonstrate concern, care and compassion for community members either directly or indirectly involved with the event.
As every event has its own unique set of circumstances and after the conclusion of any initiation of an Emergency Response Plan (ERP), Business Continuity Plan (BCP), Recovery Strategy activation or exercise a comprehensive Post Event Review should be conducted to ensure that the lessons observed from the event can be turned into lessons learned by enacting the identified items so that they will not be an issue if the plans are activated again in the future.
Post event de-briefings should include: a) detailed documentation of each divisional response from an individual and group perspective, b) a summary as well as all communications, orders, actions taken and decision details, c) a summary of reactions and concerns from staff and general public, and c) an evaluation of that division’s performance as it pertains to addressing the work and challenges presented, a view of what worked well and what areas require improvements, modifications or complete overhauls as it pertained to what the plans stated and what actions were required to be taken
This information can be achieved through operational ‘Hot-Washes’ which can happen after specific events occur within the overall response or a generalized hot-wash post event.
Each EOC shift should have at least a hot-wash before dismissal. This process will solidify the information in a timely and relevant manner. If during a particular time frame there is a stressful event (trauma, loss of life or persons becoming overwhelmed with emotional or work related stress) individuals can be assessed for any signs of undue stress that may manifesting that could be addressed before it elevates to health threatening levels. These individuals should be encouraged to go through a ‘de-fusing process with qualified Critical Incident Stress (CISM) practitioners in order to prevent the possibility of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurring.
Hot-washes also prepare for post event formal system de-briefings where the whole system and response is discussed, analysed and reported on.
Both hot-washes and de-briefings help to prepare a community or organization should they be required to attend a tribunal or formal hearing regarding their role and response during a given event.
Some sort of debriefing should be made available for those directly involved with managing the event as well a wider audience of the community at large should also be engaged in a ‘Town Hall’ type meeting where the perspectives of those not involved with managing the event; however, impacted by the even have an opportunity to express their feelings, observations and concerns.
Plan Review & Updating
A comprehensive review of the Emergency Response/Business Continuity Plan should be conducted post every event. EOC Log Books, Master Event Logs, Hot-wash and De-Brief minutes all need to be considered. An evaluation of performance, infrastructure and processes must be conducted and applied against what occurred during the event against what is written in the Plan(s) through a gap analysis process. Appropriate approved changes are then made to the plan and validated via component or system testing or exercising.
Some questions to ask in an event evaluation forum:
- Did we respond as we planned?
- What went well during response?
- What did not work as well as it should have?
- Were the Plan followed appropriately?
- What lessons could be learned from this event?
- What, if any procedures require change?
- Are any follow-up procedures needed to be included?
- Are there any other changes required?