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Nov 23, 2010

After an incident, creating “Lessons Learned” is an effective way to improve emergency response planning and procedures. By conducting a post incident critique with employees and responders, managers can evaluate the effectiveness of the response and identify areas that need improvement. Ideally, the incident critique should be moderated by personnel who are:

  • Experienced and knowledgeable in emergency response.
  • Not directly involved in the actual incident.

The following subjects and discussion points should be used as guidelines for conducting a post incident critique with employees and responders:

1. Detection

  • Was the emergency detected promptly?
  • How was it detected?
  • By whom?
  • Could it have been detected earlier? How?
  • Are any instruments or procedures available to consider, which might aid in earlier detection of the incident?

2. Notification

  • Were proper procedures followed in notifying government agencies?
  • Were notifications prompt?
  • Was management notified promptly?
  • Were personnel notified promptly? If so, why, how and who? If not, why not?
  • Were contact numbers up to date?

3, Assessment/Evaluation

  • Was the magnitude of the problem assessed correctly at the start?
  • What means were used for this assessment?
  • Are any guides or aids needed to assist emergency evaluation?
  • What sources of information were available on winds, on water currents and other variables?
  • Is our information adequate?

4. Mobilization

  • What steps were taken to mobilize countermeasures to the emergency?
  • What resources were used?
  • Was mobilization prompt? Could the response time improve? How?
  • What about mobilization of labor resources?
  • Was it appropriate to mobilize Company resources and was this promptly initiated?
  • What other Company resources are available and have they been identified and used adequately?

5. Response Strategy

  • Was there an ERP available for reference?
  • Was it flexible enough to cope with unexpected events?
  • Does the plan include clear understanding of local environmental, political or human sensitivities?
  • What was the initial strategy for response to this emergency?
  • Is this strategy defined in the ERP?
  • How did the strategy evolve and change during the emergency and how were these changes implemented

6. Response Resources Used

  • What resources were mobilized?
  • How were they mobilized?
  • How did resource utilization change with time? Why?
  • Were resources used effectively?
  • What changes would have been useful?
  • Do we have adequate knowledge of resource availability?

7. Response Effectiveness

  • Was the response effective? Prompt?

8. Command Structure

  • Who was initially in charge of responding to the emergency?
  • What sort of organization was initially set up?
  • How did this change with time? Why?
  • What changes would have been useful?
  • Was there adequate monitoring of the incident?
  • Were communications adequate?
  • Was support from financial services adequate? Prompt?
  • Should financial procedures be developed to handle such incidents?

9. Government Relations

  • What are the roles and effects of the various government agencies, which were involved?
  • Was there a single focal point among the government agencies for contact?
  • Should there have been better focus of communications to the agencies?
  • Were government agencies adequately informed at all stages?
  • Are any changes needed in the procedure to manage government relations?
  • Should there be advance planning of response criteria, aimed at specific local environmentally or politically sensitive areas?

10. Public Relations

  • How were relations with the media handled? With the public?
  • What problems were encountered?
  • How could public outcry have been reduced? Was it serious?
  • Would it be useful to undertake a public information effort to “educate” reporters about emergencies and their effects?

The question “How can our emergency response process be improved?” should be asked for each subject under the post-incident critique. Through a detailed investigation and post-incident analysis, procedures, training and plan revisions can be identified and implemented for a more effective emergency response program.