Of all the phases of managing emergencies this is the most complex but it can produce the best dividends. We have a range of emotions depending on how we were impacted by the emergency. However, this is the most critical time in the process because we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes or we want to avoid the same outcomes. We may feel a sense of failure and that we are not qualified to deal with the next steps so many times we don’t really take the best actions in this phase. In order to have true progress we must adopt a system of evaluation and action steps that are not tied to emotion.
Take the time to document the occurrence. Identify the components involved in the emergency. Gather the plans and policies that were meant to help you avoid the situation. Review the plans and policies to see if something was overlooked in the planning phase. Review expectations. Have a group discussion about the incident and the planning process to get all the ideas out on the proverbial table. Allow a free-flowing discussion about possible solutions. You may need to bring in a facilitator to help with this part of the process. Pick a point person to focus on the solution process to help manage it. You and your team need to be focused on overall solutions and not be bothered with the step by step process. This will also help the team to stay as open-minded as possible. There will be plenty of time to pin the blame on someone. Blame is easy but solutions are hard.
It is understandable that no one wants to be associated with a failed plan by reviewing it. No one wants to be associated with the new plan that may fail. However, having and implementing plans for each phase of the emergency cycle will help you strengthen your emergency management program and help you gain better and less costly outcomes.