Monday, September 9, 2013

After Action Report & Improvement Plan - June 2013 TableTop

Operation Helping Hand 2013
After Action Report & Improvement Plan
Executive Summary

Executive Summary
This After Action Report/ Improvement Plan (AAR/IP) was produced with input, advice, and assistance of the Operation Helping Hand 2013 exercise planning team, which followed the guidance set forth in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). 
Scope & Objectives / Target Capabilities
Emphasize the role of COAD volunteers in assisting County Emergency Management in the event of a countywide disaster. Capabilities-based planning focuses on planning under uncertainty because the next danger or disaster can never be forecast with complete accuracy.
The capabilities drilled were selected by the Operation Helping Hand 2013 Exercise Planning Team. These capabilities provide the foundation for development of the exercise design objectives and scenario. The purpose of this exercise is to measure and validate performance of these capabilities and their associated critical tasks. The selected target capabilities are:
Mass Care
Volunteer Management
Economic and Community Recovery 
The purpose of this report is to analyze exercise results, identify strengths to be maintained and built upon, identify potential areas for further improvement, and support development of corrective actions.
Major Strengths
Major strengths identified during this exercise are as follows:
·   A detailed and realistic exposure to an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) logistics support and how COAD fits into this.
·   The strong relationship between volunteer organizations, first responders, and the community as a whole.
·   A stronger understanding of the process of the need, activation, and utilization of COAD.
·   The Stellar turn out of the COAD members.
Primary areas for improvement identified during this exercise are as follows:
·   The need of further basic Incident Command System training.
·   More, in depth training is needed; everything cannot be covered in 2 ½ hours or less of training. Drills, functional exercises, and participation in a full scale exercise would be helpful.
·    Numerous participants requested longer training time, a different time of the day for training, more people invited..
Exercise Start & End Date
June 18, 2013
1 1/2 hours
Saint Joseph’s Hospital- Bellingham, WA
Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management
and Whatcom Unified Emergency Management
County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan
Scenario Type
Operation Helping Hand 2013 was a multimedia, facilitated exercise. Players  participated in the following three modules:
Module 1: Briefing and Start
Module 2: Initial Response
Module 3: Ongoing Operations and Ending
Each module started with a multimedia update that summarizes key events occurring within that time period. After the inject has been handed to a participant, participants review the situation and engage in a functional response of what they would actually do. Operation Helping Hand 2013 functional groups was as follows:
·         Non-Governmental Organizations
     ·         County
     ·         City
     ·         Emergency Management

Assumptions and Artificialities

In any exercise a number of assumptions and artificialities are necessary to complete play in the time allotted.
·         The scenario was plausible, and events occurred as they were presented
·         There was no “hidden agenda”, nor any trick questions.
·         Players received information and played it as a real event.
·         The date was  November 8th, 2013.
It started with a briefing of players.  The briefing included basic information on exercise format and play that includes:
3:00-3:20 PM- Incident briefing- Set the stage and answers questions
 ·        Housekeeping issues addressed
·        Key responders are presented with the problem. 
·        Actions and decisions by responders per established plans and protocols will
      drive the exercise forward.
·        Exercise play will continue until the designated time expires.
·       At the end of the day each participant will be asked to complete a Participant Feedback Form. The form is seeking three positive outcomes and three areas of improvement.
Exercise Play
3:20-3:30 PM
Scenario: Tuesday, November 8, 2013. It’s a rainy fall day in Whatcom County. Western Washington has experienced severe flooding for the last two weeks with more rain in the forecast. Today, a total of 5 counties have made disaster declarations .
3:35-3:50 PM

Scenario: Two Days Later. At this point, 11 counties have made disaster declarations; two major urban centers have been substantially impacted. Many acres of agricultural land were washed over and numerous dairy farms flooded. It is estimated that more than 50 citizens were killed and/or injured and another 60,000 have been displaced from their homes State wide. The Governor calls a special meeting to discuss the status of the storms and on-going response efforts, and calls on county/ city governments to initiate long-term recovery plans.
Later that day, WCSO-DEM stands up an EOC and requests COAD presences. Unified Command at the EOC has established goals of returning the 35 displaced residents to their homes quickly or providing suitable temporary housing, reopening businesses in a timely fashion that were affected by flooding in Bellingham/ Ferndale, and strategic use volunteers as soon as possible.
3:55-4:00 PM
Scenario: Two weeks later. The Governor will request a Presidential Declaration of a Disaster for the State of Washington. Federal funds will come but it will take some time to be available to the state. Considerable additional funding will be needed to meet recovery needs, but for the time being needs must be met, and damage assessment given to the state.
Scenario: Six months later. Most displaced residents are now in permanent housing. Repair to damaged businesses in Bellingham and Ferndale is still underway. Infrastructure repair and rebuilding continues. Eighty percent of businesses have reopened but some still struggle. Programs are ongoing and additional funding requests are still pending.
4:00-4:05 PM
Exercise Hot Wash (exercise play, decisions, and actions will be reviewed as a group).
Name: Patrick Hurley
Agency: Mt. Baker Red Cross
Name: Mallory Graving
Agency: Saturna Capital
Name: Kent Catlin
Agency: Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Division of Emergency Management

Participating Organizations
  • Acme Presbyterian Church
  • Adventist Community Services
  • Bellingham Police Department
  • Bellingham Surgery Center
  • Bellingham Technical College
  • CERT
  • Christ the King Community Church
  • COAD
  • Department of Social and Health Services
  • Garden Street UMC
  • Mac and Mac Electric
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • Plush Pooch Palace
  • Whatcom County Amateur Radio
  • Whatcom County Sheriff’s Division of Emergency Management
  • Whatcom Fire District # 11
  • Whatcom Unified  Emergency  Management
  • Whatcom Volunteer Center
  • Mt. Baker Chapter of the Red Cross
  • United Church of Ferndale
  • Saturna Capital
  • Search and Rescue Council 
·         Players: 48
·         Controller/ Evaluator:1
·         Facilitators:1
As a part of this review, areas for improvement have been identified, as well as many documented strengths. Over all it was agreed upon that the TTX successfully reflected the need for ongoing training as well as role playing practice for COAD members.
The strong points of the table top that were routinely mentioned in the evaluation process included:
·       A detailed and realistic exposure to an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) planning/ administration of COAD.
      ·    The strong relationship between volunteer organizations, first
         responders, and the community as a whole.
·       A stronger understanding of the process of producing COAD activation.
·       An excellent investment in developing an emergency volunteer cadre.
     ·         A timely drill that was needed.
The areas of concern that were recognized during the exercise were:
 ·   The need of further basic Incident Command System training.
 ·   More, in depth training is needed; everything cannot be covered in 2 ½
   hours or less of training.
·     Numerous participants requested in the future more time spent in training.
   More participants invited. An equal number wanted fewer.
·    Better effort at removing acronyms from the presentation.
·    Concern over if major participants are not able to respond, that the system
   could still be activated/ managed.
The specifics of these finding can be found in the listed Improvement Plan below.

These recommendations draw on both the After Action Report, the After
Action Conference, and participant feedback forms.

Primary Responsible Agency
Start Date
Target Completion Date
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Management
Resource Coordination
Capability to provide management by activating and operating an EOC for a pre-planned or no-notice event.
Build a list of back-up COAD Facilitators to assist in the coordination and integration of COAD.
1) When time commitment allows, designate training for further COAD drills/ exercises  to better prepare COAD members for seamless cooperation with the EOC.
When time/ allow make further investments in developing more COAD leadership to assist with COAD activation.
Chalice Dew Johnson
Active COAD Membership
As time allow
As time allow
As of 2014
As of 2014