Home Adaptation The Need for EMS After Action Reports

The Need for EMS After Action Reports


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

After Action Reports are so important in emergency management. They give emergency managers insight into how an event was handled previously. In doing so, emergency managers are able to contemplate how they might handle the same event and what decisions they would make that may yield different outcomes. These "lessons learned" not only advance emergency managers with their knowledge and understanding of handling such an event, they also advance the emergency management field.

Ambulances, an important cog in the emergency management system, doesn’t offen have specific After Action Reports because of Hurricane Katrina certainly highlighted a number of issues and recommendations that should be made. The After Action Report for the Aurora Theater Shootings also provided emergency managers with ample information for how to handle a variety of different issues associated with such an event. The After Action Reports are so important to figure out ways to adapt to strange and difficult emergency events.

Ambulance Blocked in Connecticut

Over the weekend, an ambulance in New Haven, Connecticut was blocked by protestors. Not only did the situation present a serious issue for the patient, but those in the ambulance were faced with a rather difficult conundrum.  Scene safety is incredibly important for emergency medical technicians. They certainly can’t enter a scene if the scene isn’t safe as suffering an injury renders the team unable to care for the individual anre resources are ultimately compromised. Those working in this particular ambulance were faced with several public policies coming together while they tried to figure out what was best for the patient they were treating.

Faced with such a conundrum is a relatively rare event in Emergency Medical Services when one considers the volume and types of calls agencies receive. While situations may also never present like this for some emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, understanding how the specific situation was handled is incredibly important. It gives them the opportunity to contemplate how an event could have been handled better should they be faced with a similar situation.

While most departments cannot have After Action Reports because of patient confidentiality and HIPAA regulations, it is still important for an agency to discuss during in-service trainings situations like this, what their policies are and how EMTs and paramedics can effectively handle a situation like this if they were faced with something similar.  In the same respect that an After Action Report helps an emergency manager to contemplate how they might have handled the same scenario, it helps EMTs and paramedics to poner the same event contemplating how they may have handled it if in the same situation.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.