The Pink Slice

The Pink Slice – what you don’t know you don’t know. In many things, including Emergency Management, there are things you know (like a problem you know and its solution) and things you don’t know (like a problem you know but don’t know its solution). There are also things you don’t know what the problem is at all.

Check out the article below – “Shrink the Pink Slice” for an introduction to this idea – and feel free to share in the comments any emergency management examples you may have which can be connected to shrinking the Pink Slice!

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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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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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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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 the Barton Dunant prior reading lists, here they are below.

2022 Reading List 2021 Reading List 2020 Reading List

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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
2020New York State COVID-19 After Action Report
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
2023National Transportation Safety Board Final Report on the 2023 East Palestine, Ohio Train Derailment
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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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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Unsolicited Donations

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The following photo shows what can happen when well-meaning people send unsolicited items to a disaster site. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, large piles of used clothing, shoes, food, and household goods sent to Port-au-Prince went unclaimed and began spoiling, attracting rats and other vermin. Not only did these become a health hazard for aid workers and people living nearby, they also clogged up the runway used for relief flights. In the end, these piles of goodwill had to be bulldozed off the airstrip and burned as garbage.


Diversion of Time and Space

For many people, donating stuff feels good because they are giving tangible items that one might give to a friend in need. But unsolicited items can clog supply chains and disrupt disaster operations by taking up valuable space needed by aid groups to receive and distribute critical relief supplies. Managing these donations diverts aid workers’ time and attention from the task of providing life-saving aid. Also, managing piles of unsolicited items can force aid groups to change logistical and distribution plans, adding more work and cost to their humanitarian mission.

Inappropriate Donations

Chandeliers to Rwanda. Fertility drugs to Haiti. As the illustration shows, donations of food and clothing can be unnecessary, culturally/religiously inappropriate, and in some cases, downright unhealthy. Donations of canned goods or food are rarely beneficial, and the collection of bottled water is highly inefficient, as both food and potable water can be purchased at local markets close to the disaster area. In addition, used clothing frequently goes unused. In fact, 38 countries have banned the importation of used clothing, and 28 additional countries have severely restricted imports.

Transportation: Costly and Complicated

Unsolicited donations are expensive to send. They incur more costs every time they change hands and leave a big carbon footprint in their wake. Transporting “stuff” to a disaster site is far more costly and complicated than slapping a stamp on a care package. How costly? Check out our Greatest Good Donations Calculator. What you will learn may surprise you.

A common misconception is that the U.S. government or relief agencies will transport donations free of charge, or even for a fee. This is not true. Individuals or organizations that collect and send donated items are responsible for paying for transportation and related expenses – including customs fees – at commercial rates. Therefore, it is important that transportation arrangements are secured before any kind of material donations are collected.

Things to Consider

Before collecting material donations, you should consider the following things. Otherwise, your donation may end up burdening the relief effort it seeks to support:

  • Has a credible relief organization identified a need for the items being requested?
  • Is an organization prepared to receive, manage, and distribute the items you’re sending?
  • Have the costs of transportation, shipping, warehousing and distribution been calculated and covered?
  • Who is handling customs tariffs, fees and other cross-border requirements?
  • Have quality assurance requirements from the host government been met?

From the New Jersey Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (

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2020 Reading List

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pie chart with four slices - one highlights the pink slice - what you don't know you don't know.

Shrink the Pink Slice!


What’s the Pink Slice? The Pink Slice is a term used to describe what you don’t know you don’t know. In many aspects of Emergency Management Intelligence (EMINT) and Incident Command, there are things you know  – for example what the strategic, operational and tactical objectives should be  during a routine response to an incident – and there are of course things you know you don’t know (like whether the incident will escalate beyond your command and control). Some of those things you don’t know may be things other people do know (that’s where Intelligence and Situational Awareness comes into play). There are also things you don’t know what you don’t know – meaning you didn’t even have a clue there was a possibility of this (whatever “this” is) occurring or impacting your Incident Command structure.

The origins of the term “Pink Slice” is credited to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who, in a speech to NATO in 2002, stated:

As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

And Mr. Rumsfeld probably learned this concept from a 1955 concept called the Johari Window, created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham:

Johari Window
From Wright, M. (2009). Gower handbook of internal communication. ProQuest Ebook Central

Here’s an example on the use of a Johari window, from McKinsey & Company: 

The Johari Window Model

The goals for this post are to have threads that provide good examples of how to shrink the Pink Slice in Emergency Management situations (it does not have to just be Response – it could be any of the other phases of the Disaster Cycle: Preparedness/Protection/Prevention, Mitigation or Recovery). We have started a new thread of comments below – please feel free to add new Pink Slice “Aha” boxes which are Emergency Management related – or add additional Pink Slices to the existing ones above and below. Better knowledge and understanding – and the chance to shrink the Pink Slice a little more each time, is what we hope to achieve.

4 responses to “Shrink the Pink Slice!”

  1. BartonDunant Avatar

    More than 500 people were treated for scorpion stings in Egypt, when massive flooding – climate change related – impacted the underground homes of the scorpions. Could this happen in the U.S. Southwest?

  2. Mike Prasad Avatar

    A full ground-stop (all non-military flights must land, no new flights can take off) first occurred on 9/11, in the United States. A computer systems fault, caused the second full U.S. ground stop in 2023.

    Details of the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority’s plans for a full ground stop. OSINT indicates they have one, but it has never been activated/implemented across this country.

    Which other countries have formal plans to ground airlines in their airspace – and for what reasons?

    Did not know that there is a clause in all airline insurance policies, which will effectively ground every commercial flight around the world, if war breaks out between two or more of the top five nations.

    The war risk coverage under both hull and liability insurance terminates automatically upon outbreak of war (whether or not declared) between any two or more of France, China, Russia, United Kingdom, U.S., or hostile detonation of any weapon of war employing nuclear fission, etc. (AVN52E; LSW 555D).


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