Incident Review Checklist and After Action Review

The After Action Review (AAR) process, after having been successfully institutionalized by the military, was adopted by many wildland fire agencies 8-10 years ago. It is a learning tool that can evaluate a process or an incident with the goal of improving performance by sustaining strengths and correcting weaknesses.

The process is simple. Participants that were involved in the incident are encouraged to provide input on:

  1. what was planned,
  2. what actually happened,
  3. why it happened, and
  4. what can be done next time.

The Lessons Learned Center posts copies of the AARs they have received, making it possible for us to learn from the experiences of others. This is an incredibly valuable service the LLC provides.

But there are other ways to conduct an after action review. Thanks to Butch Weedon’s “The Latest”, we have another process called an “Incident Review Checklist“. It is very detailed and attempts to ensure that few issues are forgotten. It emphases WHAT happened, but the list does not cover WHY or what should be done NEXT TIME. Maybe it is assumed that the WHY and the NEXT TIME will be discussed if problems are identified.

All of the items on the list below do not apply to every department or agency, but at a minimium, it is food for thought.

Here is the:

Incident Review Checklist

Did we acknowledge the page only once?
Did we use the dispatch channel for only essential communications?
Did we drive appropriately and wear a seat belt when in route to the station?
Did everyone take/ wear appropriate PPE to the scene, given the nature of the incident?
Did we respond with the proper apparatus?
Did we take the most direct route to the scene?
Did we have enough members respond?
Did everyone respond to where they should respond to (station / scene)?
Did anyone have to ask for directions?
Did everyone wear a seatbelt?
Did we stop at all stop indicators, and yield at yield signs (at least until other traffic yielded to us)?

Did we stage and attempt to get an assignment / or assume command?
Did we do the 5 step communications process consistently?
Did we do what the IC said do?
Did we get on a tactical channel as assigned?
Did we wear appropriate PPE?
Did we maintain crew integrity?
Did we position our apparatus to operate at best advantage?
Did we apply the high idle?
Did we have water ready immediately when called for?
Did we get anyone hurt?
Did we do any unnecessary damage?
Did we operate inside the hazard zone only with a crew w/ PPE and an assignment?
Did we execute the basics flawlessly?
Did our command have a plan for EMS / Water Supply?

Did we release apparatus when it was not needed?
Did we top off fuel and water in our apparatus?
Did we clean and refuel our tools?
Did we refill our air bottles and clean our face pieces?
Did we leave our apparatus ready to respond to the next alarm?
Did we make a log entry and file a report?

Were we nice to our customers and/or host?
Did we do more than was expected of us?
Did we turn off the lights, turn the station heat down and lock the station?

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