Emergency Management – General Topics

General Emergency Management Posts and Threads – those not in our highlighted categories

2024 Reading List

Here’s what we are reading (or hope to!) in 2024:

And if you want more book ideas – with some excellent commentary/reviews, please check out Marc C. Baker’s blog “The Baker’s Dozen” on the Emergency Management Network.

Stop the Killing – How to End the Mass Shooting Crisis by Katherine Schweit

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Introduction to Crowd Science by G Keith Still

Hospital Emergency Management – A Bible for Hospital Emergency Managers by Dr. Robert J. Muller

A Code for the Government of Armies in the Field; as authorized by the laws and usages of war on land by Francis Liebe

When the Dust Settles: Stories of Love, Loss and Hope from an Expert in Disaster by Lucy Easthope

Retellable – How Your Essential Stories Unlock Power and Purpose by Jay Golden

The Devil Never Sleeps – Learning to Live in an age of Disasters by Juliette Kayyem

Insider Threats edited by Matthew Bunn and Scott D. Sagan

Leaders Eat Last – Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Moment of Truth: The Nature of Catastrophes and how to Prepare for Them by Kelly McKinney

Apocalypse Ready – The Manual of Manuals A Century of Panic Prevention – Taras Young

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visit us at www.BartonDunant.com for emergency management training and consulting

We invite you to join our e-mailing list (don’t worry, we send out maybe three or four e-mails max, per year):

And if you want to access our prior reading lists, here they are below.

2023 Reading List
2022 Reading List
2021 Reading List
2020 Reading List

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Product/Process Incidents

One of the three major categories of incident types. The other two being Natural/Human-made and Fictitious.

This also aligns with a conversation about the definition of a threat versus a hazard. We view threats as the “thing” causing the potential adverse impact (the “hazard”). So a series of days of heavy rainfall generates flash flooding, which makes your street flooded where you can’t get in or out of your home. Hurricanes can generate flash flooding and so can dam breeches. The incident occurs when people are adversely impacted by the hazard (or hazards), generated from the threat (or threats).

Product/Process Incidents – which by the way, we are using the term ‘incidents’, when others may say disasters, catastrophies, crises, emergencies, etc.

Someday we hope there will be clearer definitions for the severity of the incident to delineate between an emergency and a catastrophe – and also elimination of the phrase “natural disaster“.


These are those incidents which are generally self-contained within your organization or maybe involves your supply chain with third-party vendors. Bottom line, is that the rest of the public is not (yet!) impacted in the same way as you are – but these incidents can also be the start of something worse – they can cascade into other types of incidents or magnify/amplify other incidents out there.

Examples of Product/Process Incidents

A recall of a product is certainly a Product/Process incident for the company. In many cases, it may be manageable and not have a significant impact on revenue, goodwill, staffing, etc. of that company. Recalls and other Product/Process incident can have life safety impacts, such as food recalls, which require crisis communications and other emergency management actions by the firm, partners, governments, etc.

Product Tampering may be a Product/Process incident: if it occurs within the production or processing of the product. On the other hand, post-production (i.e. retail sales points and other sites) product tampering is a human-made incident (and a criminal one, too). The 1982 Tylenol murders were initially thought to be a Product/Process incident, then turned out to be external product tampering, and eventually led to massive Product/Process changes for the pharmaceutical industry.

Even governments themselves have processes which can be suspect, thwarted, error-prone, delayed, manipulated, etc. and become Product/Process incidents. The U.S. Election process comes to mind, especially presidential elections. Emergency Management principles (such as life safety concerns being paramount, incident stabilization, and property/asset protection) should be utilized by governments to preserve their election integrity.

A Product/Process Incident can originate from and generate other incidents

Everything is connected somewhere and some how. We mentioned supply chain issues as being a possible catalyst for your organization’s Product/Process incident. This can be everything from a traffic jam to a potential work stoppage at a major carrier to a worldwide pandemic. Your Product/Process incident can be one of the dominoes tipped over by someone else’s incident of any kind (think cyber-attack at a major U.S. pipeline) or even worse, a Natural Threat causes a Product/Process incident at your organization, which causes a Human-Made incident in the rest of the nation.

What to do about Product/Process Incidents

The key to Product/Process Incidents is to defend against them the same way you would any other threat or hazard. By taking an All-Hazards, All-Threats approach to Product/Process incidents the same way as you would for Natural/Human-Made and Fictitious Incidents, your emergency management team (i.e. crisis team, risk management team, etc.) will have the ‘muscle memory’ of following the same pathways and checklists for all threats and hazard types. Yes, the “response” is very different for a recall than it is for a tornado, but reframing management’s priorities, along with their crisis communications to the public and their own workforce is what Emergency Management is all about. Shifting from revenue generation or other mandates, to ones where life safety is now the guiding priority (sometimes at the cost of lost revenue, lost prestige, etc.) is also what Emergency Management is all about.

[Ad] Barton Dunant can help any organization view Product-Process Incidents in a holistic way, along with the other incdent, threat, and hazard types. We help organizations build crisis action plans, which cover all of the workforce actions needed on an all-hazards, all-threats basis.


Kalaitzandonakes, M., Ellison, B., & Coppess, J. (2023). Coping with the 2022 infant formula shortage. Preventive medicine reports32, 102123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2023.102123

Severin, P. N., & Jacobson, P. A. (2020). Types of Disasters. Nursing Management of Pediatric Disaster, 85–197. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-43428-1_5

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Emergency Management – by chapter and verse

There is certainly an open discussion of where should the field of Emergency Management reside, academically: Is it Art? Is it Science? Is it something else?

Science – threat/hazard calculations, include the one that has “Outrage” as a multiplier (Peter Sandman article – https://www.psandman.com/articles/zurich.pdf)

Art – Stand for nothing, you will fall for everything (Music) (Katy Perry! quote)

We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.

Pablo Picasso, 1923

Colleges and Universities who have majors in Emergency Management have it pretty much event split between these three choices. In Emergency Management we have a lot of our own axioms, quotes, fun sayings to live by, etc. – and we ‘steal’ from the best of other fields as well, too. Here are some of the more artful ones.

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.

Bette Davis’ character Margo Channing, in “All About Eve”

Active Assailant mantras


ABC: Avoid, Barricade, Confront

Avoid, Deny, Defend

One Bite at a Time

Is how they say you should endeavor to eat an elephant.

The Devil is in the Details

Failure is not an option



Lots of stuff to fear. But fear with planning can lead to safety. Fear without planning can lead to panic.

(c) Barton Dunant – All Rights Reserved.

Measure Twice, Cut Once


Plans themselves are quickly outdated, but the planning process is timeless.

Eisenhower quote, but with some changes…

Help for the Helpers

Fred Rodgers quote “Look for the helpers” – some criticize this, but we disagree.

Every Mistake is an opportunity to learn something new

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing” – Henry Ford

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein

All Disasters Start and End Locally


Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste (Winston Churchill)

Not to mean there really are good disasters, don’t get hung up on that. Think more like John Lewis and “Good Trouble”. This is about mitigation.

Plan for the worst (see also, “Hope is not a Plan”)

Some will say, “and Hope for the Best”. We disagree. Hope is not a four-letter word in our lexicon. Work is. We say “Plan for the Worst, Work Towards the Best.” It’s also a lot like our democracy – towards a more perfect union, a never ending journey.

Plan your Work, Work your Plan

Similar to the one above, and other planning axioms.

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance (James Baker)


Call an Audible, Out of an Abundance of Caution, etc. (i.e., we are not using the plan)

This is a risky move for a commander, in that they are going against the planners and the plans for that operational period. No legal protection to hide behind when this is done. During COVID-19, these actions (i.e., not using the CBRNE/pandemic plans in place) were normalized by political leaders with the phrase “Out of an Abundance of Caution”.


Risk as a calculation or formula, has a number of elements to it. It usually involves threats and hazards.

If you have been through one disaster, you have been through one disaster

No two disasters are the same, even if they are in the same place and same type/hazard.

Hide from the Wind, Run from the Water

https://blueskiesmeteorology.com/run-from-the-water-hide-from-the-wind/ Issues with the Safer-Simpson Scale and the public’s reactions/actions when provided with complex information.

The NWS says

Run from the water. Hide from the wind. The most critical decision that can be made is to leave the area at risk of storm surge flooding. Most well-built structures are safe even in major hurricane winds. Even well-built structures fail to provide protection from water. Listen to local officials when they issue evacuation orders.



NATO quote in Latin.

Coming in Hot

Viet Nam war reference for helicopters

Never say the Q word

one of those superstitions in the EM field. Especially never ever say “Have a Q—-t Weekend”

The moment you open a shelter is the time to start planning how it will close

The ramp up to opening a mass care general population shelter serving people with disabilities, access and functional needs (yes, that’s what shelter’s are really called) is quite complex and requires all three of the “S”‘s – Staff, Stuff and Site(s). All of these have to be demobilized or transferred – if the clients all depart – or the shelter site needs to be moved to another location. There could also be co-located pet and medical needs sheltering, emergency supplies distribution sites, fixed feeding sites. All of those needs to be considered and planned for. In many, many disasters – this is the most recurring complex operation that an Emergency Manager has oversight on.

Not my Clowns, Not my Circus


Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.

Usually misattributed to CS Lewis

Release the Kraken / Big Push

Speed to Scale – Speed to Service


Throw like a girl

Time – Distance – Shielding

Works for not only explosive incidents (CBRNE), but other threats as well. The faster you get further away from any threat, and shielding yourself in the process – the better. Active Assailants, too.

Train like you fight, fight like you train

The 10th Fish Rule

Okay, some call it the 10th man rule, as this blog does, but the point is someone needs to be the “devil’s advocate” and argue for consequence management. From Chris Meyer of The Mind Collection.

If it’s not written down – it didn’t happen

Document your work – via logs (214 forms), SitReps, etc. This is for your credit and your protection.

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2023 Reading List

Here’s what we are reading (or hope to!) in 2023:

Benghazi: Know Thy Enemy by Sarah Adams & Dave Benton

Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes by Richard A. Clarke & R.P. Eddy

The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore by Michele Wucke

The Handbook of Crisis Communication by Timothy Coombs & Sherry Holladay

George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation (Little Books of Wisdom) by George Washington

Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond by Erik J. Dahl

Dealing with Disasters: GIS for Emergency Management (Applying GIS, 2) by Ryan Lanclos & Matt Artz

A Memory of Solferino by Henri Dunant

Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

Disaster by Choice by Ilan Kelman

Disposable City by Mario Alejandro Ariza

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visit us at www.BartonDunant.com for emergency management training and consulting

We invite you to join our e-mailing list (don’t worry, we send out maybe three or four e-mails max per year):

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2022 Reading List 2021 Reading List 2020 Reading List

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Social Reengineering and Emergency Management

While the concept of social reengineering – influencing people to change their behaviors and patterns of action/inaction – is typically applied in the corporate world (think advertising and marketing), it is also a concept applicable to emergency management.

Emergency Managers want people to better prepare themselves for emergencies and disasters. The fact of the matter is, there are not enough rescuers and resources for all the people who need rescuing – especially if some people can rescue themselves. There is also the “reengineering” part – which is changing existing (or non-existent) behaviors – and in the case of Emergency Management it is usually to reprioritize for life safety above incident stabilization, above property/asset protection. For example, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) and the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) both of 2006, had elements designed to change the way people should evacuate instead of sheltering-in-place because they have pets.

Sometimes it is complex changes in the way government operates which can impact/implement social reengineering, and sometimes it’s simple mantras, such as

See Something, Say Something® – from DHS and the NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Drop, Cover, Hold


Run, Hide, Fight


References/Additional Material:

Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience: Disaster and Social Aspects, 2022.
Rebuilding the Bahamas: How a hurricane blows up social divides“, The Christian Science Monitor, 2019.

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The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good people to do nothing.

Edmund Burke (paraphrased)

Evil intentions, evil thoughts, evil actions: when it comes to threats and hazards, acts of evil have a special place on our collective lists of bad things. Some of us may think we can focus solely on what we believe are evildoers, and then end up with reduced capabilities and capacity for those natural and human-made hazards which become significant threats, nonetheless. Others will disregard the possibility of evil actions or intent, which has significant downsides as well. Lack of planning for what is considered consequence management possibilities, is a bad path to be on. Why do bad people do bad things (threats which become hazards)? In most cases it boils down to one of four reasons, covered in an acronym called M.I.C.E.  – Money, Ideology, Coercion, and Ego.

None of these cover a possible worst-case scenario, which is evil. People who are evil want to hurt or destroy beyond any reasons we can think of. What we all can do to be ready for something evil – that is to be better prepared before, during, and after any incident – no one is ever fully prepared for every threat and hazard, this is always an area everyone can improve on. Be more ready for that “what if” it was the worst of the worst.

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

– William Shakespeare

1599 Antony. Julius Caesar, act 3, sc.2, l.74-86.

And sometimes the solutions to the “good versus evil” problems facing our world, also help against the adverse impacts of plain old accidents or even natural disasters. Let’s take the simple act of walking in the park: protecting the pedestrians from vehicles nearby helps just as much from someone having a medical emergency and not hitting the brakes, as it does from the terrorist hellbent on mowing down everyone they can get.  

Whether you are preparing your family, your community, your state/territory/sovereign tribal nation, or even country: consider the possibility that evil might be the “why” behind any threat or hazard. This should make you alter and update your emergency plans, organizational staffing, equipment to be used, training and exercising of those elements. In Emergency Management we call this collection of elements POETE and use that process to make our problem-solving efforts and capacity-building more effective and efficient. Acts of terrorism may certainly qualify as evil, and the U.S. government spends quite a bit of effort to prevent these acts and protect all of us from their adverse impacts. And the feds have shared their guidance tools for this complete process in their Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 201, Third Edition. That guide utilizes the POETE process quite extensively.

The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.

J. K. Rowling

Every disaster starts and ends locally – even the evil ones. Take the time now to look at your emergency plans, your list of threats and hazards, etc. and consider how they could be impacted by evil.

This is part of the involuntary bargain we make with the world just by being alive. We get to experience the splendor of nature, the beauty of art, the balm of love and the sheer joy of existence, always with the knowledge that illness, injury, natural disaster, or pure evil can end it in an instant for ourselves or someone we love.

Jeff Greenfield 
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Emergency Action Plans – the basics

The rock band “The Clash” have a song entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – which is about a relationship between two people. It’s also a quick summary of Emergency Action Planning – should you shelter-in-place or evacuate?

The emergency management answer to this question is “Depends on what the emergency is” – and its possible the answer may be different over time, distance and shielding from the hazard. That means if you are in a house that’s on fire, it’s best to evacuate no doubt, but if it’s a 30-story office building, it might depend on where the fire is, as to what you do next. And it can get more complicated as time and distance from the hazard changes. If you view all hazards like this, you can make the best decisions for your own life safety and help others, too. The priorities should always be in this order: life safety, incident stabilization, and then property/asset protection. If your house is on fire, the fire department will work to rescue you and your pets first, then make sure the fire does not spread to other homes. You will probably notice they are not concerned with getting water on your big screen tv.   

Here are the basics we see for the public actions of emergency action planning: Sheltering-In-Place, Evacuation, and Active Assailant (which may combine both depending on time, distance and shielding). And our basic emergency action plan template covers all three, from an all-hazards perspective. Everyone should organize, equip, train, and exercise themselves to all three actions, they are responsible for themselves.


Sheltering-In-Place means staying where you are and not evacuating. And the “you” we describe in this post can mean you and your family, you and your co-workers, you and your pets, you and your personal care assistant, etc. You be you – and please take into consideration all the unique aspects of you we may forget to mention specifically. Sheltering-In-Place could mean you moving to a safer room in the building or a safer location in the complex or on the campus – but generally this an easier decision where and when to go, when there is existing Planning, Organization, Equipment, Training, and Exercising associated with this action. We call that a POETE process. Planning means having a plan as to where you would go, knowing what you would need there for an extended stay perhaps, and how you would communicate with others if circumstances of the emergency change (for the better or worse). Organization means knowing who is doing what – who may be needed to help you shelter-in-place and then get you back to “normal”. Equipment, as mentioned before is the stuff you need to shelter-in-place. We call it a “Stay Box”. This can hold everything from food/pet food, medicine, battery-powered cell charger, flashlight, water, change of clothes, sleeping bag, whatever. And this is stuff you need to have everywhere you might shelter-in-place, not just at home. So you will need multiple stay boxes. Training is the process of reviewing the plan, asking questions, taking classes, and attending seminars on personal preparedness (the American Red Cross has these for free, so does FEMA) and asking questions of your leadership at work about emergency preparedness and response. And finally Exercising is the practice, practice, practice that everyone needs to do for emergency action planning. Practice your plan, practice using your equipment, practice with others, and practice some “what ifs” from your training.


Evacuation means leaving where you and not sheltering-in-place. It could mean evacuating the entire building, complex, or campus – or just evacuating to a safer place. For that high-rise building fire, residents on the upper floors may evacuate to a different floor which has more fire protection and/or access to a fire stairwell, for example. Residents with mobility concerns may evacuate to what’s called an Area of Refuge, which is a meeting spot for residents to be further evacuated by the fire department. The building may have a designated Emergency Assembly Point outside, for people to meet together for accountability (where officials help make sure everyone has safely evacuated the building). Here’s the POETE process for Evacuations. It is going to sound somewhat familiar to Sheltering-In-Place. Planning means having a plan as to where you would go now and also the “what-ifs” for if you are able to return or not, knowing what you might need while you wait at the Emergency Assembly Point, and how you would communicate with others if circumstances of the emergency change (for better or worse). Organization means knowing who is doing what – who may be needed to help you evacuate and then get you back to “normal”. Equipment, as mentioned before, is the stuff you need to evacuate. “Need” is the operative word.  We call it a “Go Bag”. This can hold everything from food, medicine, battery-powered cell charger, electric wheelchair charging devices, flashlight, small amount of water, glow stick, whatever. And as with the Stay Box, you need a Go Bag in different places, too. A purse or backpack you carry with you everywhere will do. Training is the process of reviewing the plan, asking questions, taking classes, and attending seminars on personal preparedness (the American Red Cross has these for free, so does FEMA) and asking questions of your leadership at work about emergency preparedness and response. And finally Exercising is the practice, practice, practice that everyone needs to do for emergency action planning. Practice your plan, practice using your equipment, practice with others, and practice some “what ifs” from your training.

Note that the steps and actions for Evacuations should sound familiar to those for Sheltering-In-Place. We designed this to be similar, for muscle-memory and consistency. There is a lot of preparing work involved for both, but it will be worth it. The point is to act on your plan, and not to panic. The last set of emergency response actions we have put into our all-hazards Emergency Action Plan template is associated with an Active Assailant. This one can combine elements of both sheltering-in-place and evacuation, plus one more which is really difficult to plan for: possibly fighting for your life.

Active Assailant

Active Assailant means the threat to your life is right there. Time has run out, and maybe so has distance and shielding. Most people have heard of the Active Shooter threat and maybe even phrases such as “Run, Hide, or Fight” or “Avoid, Deny, Defend”. You see on the news: schools and office buildings going into “lockdown” when there is a nearby threat. This is mis-labeled in our opinion. Those sites where the threat is not (yet) right there are in a “Lockout” alert phase (no one goes in and no one goes out) – they want to put distance and shielding between themselves and the threat. A site can be designed in a “Lockout” phase for other reasons besides an Active Assailant (chemical hazard, infectious disease threat, A lockout is the exact opposite of an evacuation, as far as what the public should be thinking.

A Lockdown now means something more.

We define a “Lockdown” as the combined set of response actions by the public to a direct active assailant. If the threat is coming through the front door and you can escape safely through the back door – then it is an evacuation for you. If you are nearer the front with no immediate clear/safe way out, then you may choose to shelter-in-place hopefully in a Safer(TM) Room, until you can – and should – evacuate. And if the threat is right upon you – you will need to fight for your own life using any means necessary. It is always better to quickly (time) put as much as much space (distance) between you and the threat, as safely as you can (shielding).

We believe the active assailant threat/hazard is very complex and can include other threats besides a shooter. The actions of first responders are turned upside down for active assailant attacks: fire and emergency medical services are held back until the “scene is safe” and police are reprioritized to “neutralize the threat” above saving the lives of people who have been injured. Here’s the POETE: Plan your actions towards the “Avoid, Deny, Defend” model – you need to incorporate your sheltering-in-place and evacuation planning wherever you are, plus plan to switch actions if necessary. There is no sequential order to “Avoid, Deny, Defend” – nor is there a limit to how many different actions you can take. Focus on life safety – yours. When it comes to Organization, you are pretty much on your own. If you can safely help others, please do so. Please also follow the instructions of first responders to the letter. The fact is for them, unless proven otherwise, you are a threat, too. When you are evacuating from an active assailant incident, the police may not know if you are part of the ongoing threat or an evacuee. The Equipment is not much more than what you already have with a go bag and a stay box. When you are barricading yourself in a safer room, you need to consider how to keep the door closed and possibly how you might have to break a window to escape, or to signal for help. You may also need a bleeding control kit to help with injuries. There is a ton of Training on active assailant for the public, out there. Find some yourself or ask your organization’s leadership to host a class or two. Same for Exercises. We recommend a stair-stepped approach – start with a “Hide” table-top exercise where you discuss what everyone should do for the sheltering-in-place actions, then do a Hide game (internally, where you do not involve any calls to 9-1-1 or any outside responders), then do a Hide functional exercise where you do invite the first responders to help evaluate your exercise (and also gain knowledge of your site and the physical layout, security features, etc.). Any and all Active Assailant exercises of any kind must be scheduled in advance, as well as announced to your staff and visitors, and will include after-action discussions to make sure folks feel more comfortable and confident after each type of exercise. For many, just practicing this exercise in any way, will be extremely stressful. Failing to coordinate with local officials, keeping your own team in the loop, etc. will have significant risks itself. Barton Dunant can help your organization assess their emergency action plans and design an exercise series around active assailant threats, on a fee basis.

And by the way, people should think of wildfires and hurricanes as active assailants, too. You may start out sheltering-in-place, but then the circumstances change – your time, distance and shielding from the threat become compromised – and its time to evacuate. Or be rescued if the first responders can get to you. In active assailant threats, you are first-and-foremost responsible for your own life-safety. Do what you have to do to survive – you will have little control over the incident stabilization aspects of this type of threat – and put the life safety of yourself and your family above your property protection or anything else. Stuff and buildings can always be replaced. People cannot.

These are the basics of Emergency Action Plans – and you can download a template at our website, which you can use for your home, your job, even your vacation plans elsewhere. And please let us know any questions or thoughts you may have on all of this – we welcome feedback from our clients and are always looking to improve what we offer. Should you stay or should you go, when there is an emergency? Hopefully now you have a better understanding of how simple the answer is, and also how complex it can be, too.

Michael Prasad, MA, CEM®

Senior Research Analyst

Barton Dunant – Emergency Management Training and Consulting.


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The 6,000 mile screwdriver

This is a term from the U.S. military – first noted by Anderson in Stars & Stripes in 2004 and then further explored by Miller in 2012 for his senior service college fellowship at the U.S. Army War College. The term is a description of micro-management from afar and by politicians – in these cases, from the White House directly to the line command of a military operation.

In Emergency Management, the equivalent could also be the White House (or a state’s/territory’s governor’s office) reaching down to a DR’s Command and Control (possibly through FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), the State Emergency Operations Center, or now by video link from anywhere), instead of only receiving updates and intelligence via the External Relations function. This is not like MAC Groups or Unified Command, where there are Emergency Management-qualified people in an offsite advisory role, helping those who are in charge. With politicians, there may be a question of their prioritization of Life Safety over Incident Stabilization over Property/Asset Protection.

FEMA itself has this challenge when it comes to supporting the states/territories/tribal nations. Each FEMA Region has a Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) and also imbeds FEMA Incident Management Teams with the local jurisdiction to be closer to the incident site(s). There are times when the NRCC can act like a 6,000 mile screwdriver, to the RRCC and their support provided locally.

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After Action Reports

The After-Action Report/Improvement Plan (AAR/IP) is a document that organizations (including FEMA) use to assess their ability to meet both real-world incidents and exercise objectives and capabilities. The AAR/IP generally has two components:

  • After-Action Report (AAR)Captures observations of an exercise and makes recommendations for post-exercise improvements.
  • Improvement Plan (IP)Identifies specific corrective actions and assigns them to responsible parties.

The AAR/IP also aligns incident command (or exercise) objectives with preparedness doctrine and related frameworks and guidance. It includes information required for preparedness reporting and trend analysis.

Some of the After Action Reports (AARs) on major incidents or GO/NGO councils/committees, we have found on the web. Do you know of any others available as OSINT (Open Source Intelligence – items available – TLP: Green- to the public, not classified or sensitive)? Please add in the comments. If any of these links are broken, please let us know via an e-mail to [email protected].

Report name/Location
2007Los Angeles Police Department Report to the Board of Police Commissioners – “An Examination of May Day 2007” – from MacArthur Park
2009The Lessons of Mumbai
2010Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Disaster
2015Attacks on Paris, France
2016After-Action Review of the Orlando Fire Department Response to the Attack at Pulse Nightclub
2017Las Vegas MCI – October 1st Route 91 Concert Shooting
Commemorating Disorder in After Action Reports: Rhetorics of Organizational Trauma after the Las Vegas Shooting
2017Independent Review of the 2017 Protest Events in Charlottesville, Virginia
2019‘Sharpiegate’ – Allegations of Scientific Misconduct During Hurricane Dorian
2020The Joint Federal/Provincial Commission into the April 2020 Nova Scotia Mass Casualty – Final Report – Turning the Tide Together – by the Mass Casualty Commission
2020An After-Action Review of City Agencies’ Responses to Activities Directly Following George Floyd’s Death on May 25, 2020. Conducted on behalf of the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota
2020Independent Review of New Jersey’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
2020Nashville, TN – 2020 Christmas Day Bombing: Communications Dependencies Case Study
2021City of Austin-Travis County 2021 Winter Storm Uri After-Action Reports
2021Fredrick, MD – Joshua Laird – LODD – After-Action Report and Improvement Plan (AAR/IP)
2022Uvalde, TX – 2022 Robb Elementary School Shooting: Interim Report. Conducted by the Texas House of Representatives, Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting
2022Review of the University of Arizona’s Safety and Security Environment – from the killing of a professor on campus, by a former student
2022Buffalo, NY – Lessons Learned from the Buffalo Blizzard: Recommendations for Strengthening Preparedness and Recovery Efforts, 2022 Buffalo Blizzard After-Action Report/Improvement Plan – An Independent Alternative Report by the Center for Emergency Management Intelligence Research
2023Roadmap for Wildfire Resilience: Solutions for a Paradigm Shift by The Nature Conservancy and the Aspen Institute
2023The Impacts of Extreme Weather Events on People with Disabilities by the National Council on Disability
2023Rail Safety Report from the 2023 East Palestine, Ohio Train Derailment by the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Rail Safety
2023Lahaina Fire Comprehensive Timeline Report by the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), part of UL Research Institutes
2023County of Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety After-Action Report Maui Wildfires by the Western Fire Chiefs Association
2023Maui Police Department Preliminary After-Action Report on the Maui Wildfires
Table of After-Action Reports (AARs) – if any of these links are broken, please let us know.

There are also pracademic perspectives on some of the AARs we have noted above. We have provided links to those as well. If you know of others – please let us know!

After Action Reporting is a formal process conducted after both real-world incidents and exercises. It involves an independent review of the actions and gaps (strengths and opportunities) of those groups responding, based on their plans. Barton Dunant can help your organization with independent After Action Reporting – drop us a line to learn more.

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US-DHS has free exercises for schools

Active Shooter Template


FEMA’s Sample School Emergency Operations Plan (for Training Purposes)

Federal Emergency Management Agency

This sample school EOP was developed in accordance with the “Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.” This document has been developed for training purposes only.

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