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After-Action Reports Reveal Critical Management Flaws

After-Action Reports Reveal Critical Management Flaws


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Emergency managers often stress the importance of after-action reports because they highlight the key points of how an emergency was managed. These reports provide lessons to be incorporated into emergency management plans, so that managers will be better equipped to handle similar incidents in the future.

After-action reports also call attention to other aspects of dealing with emergencies. It is important for emergency managers to:

  • Avoid falling in love with one emergency management plan.
  • Be ready to adapt to any circumstances.
  • Understand that emergencies are often chaotic and difficult to manage.

NPF Report Highlights Emergency Management Mistakes during Pulse Nightclub Shooting

An article published by the Emergency Management and Response - Information Sharing and Analysis Center mentioned that the National Police Foundation (NPF) conducted an objective, in-depth after-action review of the Orlando Fire Department’s response to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting. The review was created at the request of the City of Orlando and the Orlando Fire Department. It provided direction and recommendations that were beneficial to all fire and emergency medical services responders nationwide.

The review acknowledged that the scene of the shooting was particularly chaotic and difficult to manage from the start. It explained that mutual assistance agreements were in place, but communication among responding agencies was poor. Also, there was no unified command at the scene.

The Pulse nightclub shooting left 49 persons dead and another 53 wounded. Such a high number of casualties can be difficult to triage because it is always far more difficult to work a mass casualty incident than a routine one-on-one shooting.

After-Action Reports Make a Vital Difference to Improving Emergency Management

After-action reports highlight the lessons learned from an incident and might reveal other factors and flaws that could complicate response efforts. Ultimately, these reports are painful reminders to those who work emergency scenes, but they are always important to have.

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.