1. #1
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    Talking Do you perform a post-incident critique?

    Iím interested in developing a post-incident critique of sorts.

    Anybody out there do this formally? We occasionally have an informal critique, but it isnít very structured and tends to deteriorate into unrelated subjects.

    We donít run very much, so there are * usually * problems that arise with communication or procedure or something. As well, I think itís important to give credit where credit is due.

    Hereís what Iím looking for, my cyber-brethren: If you do a critique, is it structured? If so, what is the format? Either way, do you find it helpful to the operation of the department?

    Thanks in advance.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    We also don't have very many run in a year, but we do a informal critique after all runs.
    Most times after a fire, the next meeting night is when we critique. You are so right that you must include things that went well as well as things that went wrong. If you just look at the bad things it will quickly turn into a finger pointing argument.
    The IC will normaly start with something that He/She didn't do right, then point out something that went well.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    We too are a small department and have few incidents. Currently, we do not do critiques but it's definately a good idea. I know the EMS system I also run with does quarterly critiques which has proven to be helpful, especially to newer members. I would have to say that as long as there is no finger pointing or singleing people out, it definately adds to the experience. We all know that we can read any number of books and take any number of classes we want, but when it comes right down to it ... experience makes a big difference. Sitting down and saying this was a good experience all around, but here are a few ways we could make it even better in the future only helps to better the firefighters and the department as a whole.

    My $0.02
    Greg Smith
    Assistant Chief
    Gakona Vol. Fire Dept.
    Gakona, Alaska

  4. #4
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    Well...we are supposed to do this after every incident. It is either written down in the constitution, department orders, or SOP's. Don't recall where exactly, although I know it is definately written down. Basically we only do post-incident debriefings after big calls.

  5. #5
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    We have been pretty good about doing a post mortem on most of our major incidents. Usually after or a few days following the incident we will sit around and go from A to Z and back over what was done, what went wrong, etc. The lessons of these usually find their way into the next training on that subject, ie after an ice rescue we took those lessons and made them part of the training lesson plan so we can improve our service in that area. No real formal structure, but if you let everyone tell what happened from their own prospective it lets everyone vent and limits questions like "why did you do that?" being asked every few minutes.
    Member IACOJ & IACOJ EMS Bureau
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    As always these are strictly my own opinions and views

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    We critique incidents. You have to, how will you learn and better your department. You said you have "usual" problems. Once identified at a critique: train, train and train some more until they aren't problems. That is the entire idea. We even critique other departments incidents, especially if things didn't go well. Learn from other people's and your mistakes.

    The best format we have used is to have each company describe what they did, one at a time. Then have the safety officers and chief describe what they have seen. Record it also to use as a training aid, and so other members who were not at the incident can learn also.

    This doesn't have to be done that day, but ASAP is best.

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    We try to to do a critique after all structure fires or other major types of responses. It varies when we do them, somethimes it is a few days later, or sometimes it can be two weeks after the incident occurred.

    On all working structure fires, our Fire Training officer tries to respond and take pictures, which he then makes into a powerpoint presentation. If he isn't there, there are usaually other personnel walking around with a camera.

    We had a structure fire about two months ago and one of the first officers on scene happened to have his camcorder with him and got about 20 minutes of footage. Since then, our Fire Training Officer has said he is going to by camcorders for the first out engines, the rescue truck, and the command vehicle.

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    This is what works in our department and it is based off an After Action Review. There is no finger pointing, but you need thick skin in order to fix things.
    1. What was the call
    2. What did we do right
    3 What did we do wrong
    4 How can we improve.
    This will involve everyone at the scene, and not just officers and senior firefighters. Hope it helps
    Stay Safe/Stay Low Go 8 Car Go

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    Hey Bro,
    Let me tell ya from a training officers point of view, this is an invaluable part of the call. We always have an informal critique after the call, and then I spare a few minutes at the begining of the next training session. This is where the structured critique is handled. I try to make an overhead of the scene and leave it on the projecter during the entire critique. It is very important to ask the awful question of "What did we do wrong?", then just listen to what the guys have to say, you will be surprised at the feedback. Usually if the officers will admitt what mistakes they made first it will loosen everybody else up and they will begin to tell what their part was on the scene. DON"T BE ASHAMED TO ADMITT TO YOUR MISTAKES!!!!!, it will only make you a better Dept.

    Hope this will help Bro.
    Capt. Walker

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    Silver City 4
    Donít get a critique and a debrief mixed up. Each is a very important part of an after incident action plan. A debrief is a get together right after the event. Everyone gets a chance to tell what he or she understood the events to be and what they did. No one is to talk about what went wrong or right. If you have a critique right after the call, whatís going to happen is a bunch of finger pointing. This will be really true if itís a really bad call. In the 27 years in the fire service I have found this to be true. After a couple of days when people have a chance to get their thoughts together and calm down then they talk about what went right and what you need to work on (again donít say wrong because people will get defensive). If you need to label the things that didnít go right then call them mistakes, we all make them. Again everyone gets a chance to talk. Let them talk until they say their peace. Then let the next person talk. As far as being structured, the only thing I do is make sure that everyone talks in order. This could be from top to bottom, bottom to top or just go around the room. And again donít let the finger start pointing.
    I hope this helps you.
    Captain David Gerrer
    Ft. Lewis Fire & Emergency Services

  11. #11
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    Within reason, we do a de-brief after each event. That said, if it was a "no-action call" ie false alarm then no. But even for the most simplest of calls we still do the de-brief following return to the station. That way any problems that were experienced or safety issues are addressed right away and hopefully everyone goes home with happy thoughts. In addition to the regular de-brief, if the event was particularly bad (severe injury/death etc) then the Chief will call in for a Critical Stress de-brief as well. This has happened on two occassions in the 18 months that I have been on active duty. Its always good to hash out any problems right away and to clear up any disagreements or discrepancies quickly - no hard feelings later, right.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    We have always tried to do a good critique after any fire or major accident. We emphasize that it's not a bitch session, that we want to figure out what we did right, and what we would do differently the next time. We outline what we did in the general time sequence it was done. Once we have the operation completely outlines, we figure out what we would have done differently. Sometimes we are 100% happy and pat ourselves on the back. Usually, there's at least one or two things we can improve on.

    For a major event or a fatal, we use an outside moderator to lead the discussion. His instructions are to ask questions - why do you do this, why do you do that, did you think about trying it this way? The goal is to get everyone involved and talking to one another.
    Remember, it IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get you!

  13. #13
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    We do use a formal PIA (Post Incident Analysis)I can send you a copy if you would like. It pretty well goes through everything, from dispatch to arrival back into quarters. We also do a PIA (Captains and Chiefs only) so we can air out problems instead of doing it in front of the other firefighters.

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