EMPs – the MOM of COOP/COG for EM

We believe the worst-case scenario disaster which will fall on Emergency Management is the Electro-Magnetic Pulse wave (EMP) from a low-atmospheric detonation of a nuclear device over the United States. This will have catastrophic impacts to the continuity of operations / continuity of government (COOP/COG) for emergency management (EM). It is the maximum of maximums (MOM).

We have built an advanced table-top exercise for this scenario and welcome your thoughts and comments. It will be usable by single entries, any level jurisdiction, all the way up through an international multi-player exercise. The concept is the same: When you have no comms and no modern transportation and of course no electricity nor electronic devices, what do you expect/order your staff to do next? Take care of themselves and their families or do everything they can to get to work/stay at work? And do they know now what they are supposed to do if such a scenario should occur?


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After Action Reports

Some of the After Action Reports (AARs) on major incidents, we have found on the web. Know of any others available as OSINT (Open Source Intelligence – items available 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 info@bartondunant.com.

There are also academic perspectives on AARs in general and specifically aligned to the AARs we have noted below. We have provided links to those as well. If you know of others – please let us know!

Report name/Location
2009The Lessons of Mumbai
2010Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Disaster
2015Attacks on Paris, France
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
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
2021City of Austin-Travis County 2021 Winter Storm Uri After-Action Reports
Table of AARs

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 with After Action Reporting – drop us a line to learn more.

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Emergency Assembly Areas

Also known as Emergency Assembly Points, Evacuation Assembly Areas, Emergency Assembly Station, etc.

These are the designated areas (or area) outside of a work facility where people should go, if the building needs to be evacuated. Check in with first-responders or members of your Crisis Action Team. Do not go back into the building until instructed to do so. These locations should be safer than staying inside of the building, during an evacuation incident – your life safety is the top priority. They may be located on-property or off-property, depending on the site selected by your organization’s leadership, facilities management and/or emergency management teams. They may also be marked with a sign – or not – but at a minimum your crisis action plan should include a floor plan/location map which shows where each of these Emergency Assembly Areas (EAA) are located.

Example signage

If there are more than one EAA location, you should be designated to a primary location and a backup one, if possible. A multi-story office building may have multiple EAAs by floor or company or some other method. When you evacuate, go to your primary EAA if possible – what is key is that you check in with the Crisis Action Team or other responders for accountability. There may be further instructions – or even further evacuations or transportation – at that EAA.

If the EAA is unsafe (for example, if it is too close to an ongoing threat in the building, like a fire), go to the alternate EAA. If you have to leave the building due to an active assailant attack, go anywhere that is safer, contact first responders (like 9-1-1) and ask them where to go.

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Safer Rooms(TM)

We prefer the term “safer” rather than “safe” – a Safer Room (TM) in an office (or perhaps even a home or other business) is one where people can go to during a shelter-in-place event or incident and they will be safer than they would be at their normal work location. Safer Rooms should have some specific features, which make them more conducive for a number of people to shelter-in-place – or even “hide” during an active assailant attack – at the same time.

We recommend using a small symbol on a removable magnet to indicate which are the Safer rooms. This would be known to the staff only (and communicated on demand to visitors, as needed) and should be consistent to all of the work locations so that staff who visit other locations know what to look for. During a Lockdown, if Safer rooms are used to “Hide” , once all the people have evacuated into the Safer room, the last person takes the symbol magnet off, so that anyone else (like a threat actor) does not know this is a Safer Room. Everyone inside needs to follow their organization’s Lockdown protocols as to when to end the use of the Safer Room and what to do next.

Safer Rooms should:

  • Have solid walls and a lockable solid door – so that someone from the outside cannot easily see in or get in. Small windows on the door should have a curtain or some other device to block inward view quickly. This helps provide Cover.
  • Have large items to block doors (such as cabinets or tables). Also small items to throw at an attacker (like staplers, trash cans, etc.) if necessary.
  • Have a light switch to turn off the lights – it helps to have the room number marked on the light switch, so you can let emergency responders know where you are located.
  • Have at least one working power outlet and a number of chargers and cables for cell phones
  • Have a landline (or VOIP) phone – in case cell service is spotty or poor.
  • Have a signal page with green on one side and red on the other to either slip half-way under the door or post in the exterior window – use only if instructed by your leadership or first responders (via your communications devices, not from someone “shouting out” commands in the hallway) – the green side out (or out) indicates everyone in that room is okay, the red side indicates medical/health emergencies exist.
  • Have some bottled water and sweet snacks – people might be in this room for a while and need to take medications or have low blood sugar, etc.

If the room has a window and is on a floor where someone could escape the room through that window, have a device to break the window (a hammer, for example) if the window does not normally open enough on its own to let someone exit.

Barton Dunant can help you design your crisis action plans, make recommendations for safer rooms and provides table-top and functional exercises for your organization to test your plans. Learn more about starting a crisis action plan by clicking here.

Safer Room is a trademark of York Drive, LLC. Used with permission.

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The Importance of LIP

What is LIP? It’s an acronym for Life Safety, Incident Stabilization and Property Protection – and those three areas – in that order are the top-line Priorities or Objective Categories of any incident response operation. They must always occur, and be prioritized in that order when it comes to creating Strategies and Tactics on the Operation. When you are considering a Mission Assignment, ask yourself: Does it fit this criteria? Are we making sure our team is safe at all times? Remember Responder Life Safety is always the number 1 priority.

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