A Hot Wash is a term used for the immediate after-action review conducted after exercises (usually performed at functional or full-scale exercises, but can be done on any type of exercise) and real-world incidents. The term comes from the haz-mat (hazardous-materials) responder world, where the immediacy of decontamination is needed, due to being “hot” (having bad stuff still on you). The time to make corrective action is now – or at least identify where there are strengths and opportunities (positives and negatives). Once these items are identified as changes needed to be made to the Plans, Organization (staffing pattern and levels), Equipment, Training, and (future) Exercises – the POETE – they should be organized into four categories:
- Sustain – longer-term strengths which should be continued
- Quick Fix – short-term opportunities which have little or low cost to implement
- Improve – medium to longer-term opportunities which have a higher cost to implement
- Parking Lot – those strengths and/or opportunities which need further discussion – and POETE, and are beyond the scope of this incident and/or exercise.