Training Emergency Management and Response: Creating the Big Picture


Magnus Morin,Johan Jenvald,Arne Worm


A disaster scene is a complex and dangerous environment. The number of casualties recovered and lives saved during a rescue mission depend not only on the ability of the members of the rescue party to carry out their individual tasks, but also on the close cooperation between individuals and units, and the careful coordination of their efforts. Effective training of emergency management and response is mandatory to ensure the successful outcome of a rescue mission under these circumstances.

After-action analysis and evaluation are vital to improve training efficiency at large-scale rescue exercises. This task, however, is inherently difficult because the participating rescue units operate geographically separated, are assigned individual tasks, and carry out activities in parallel. In addition, the units are controlled by commanders at different levels and locations, who make decisions based on their perception of the current situation. As a consequence, there are as many views of the exercise as there are participants. To overcome this diversity, and thus provide a common frame of reference for subsequent analysis and evaluation, it is necessary to establish an objective view of the course of events. Instead of trying to investigate what happened, it then becomes possible to concentrate on why something happened.

In this paper we describe methods and tools for supporting after-action analysis and evaluation of large-scale rescue exercises. We concentrate on how to select, record, compile, and replay relevant events to provide a coherent view of a complex exercise. We demonstrate the various steps of our approach by relating to an emergency response exercise in Sweden in October 1997. During this exercise we registered more than 10,000 events and intercepted some 800 radio transmissions. The course of events were replayed to the 230 participants at the after-action review 90 minutes after the conclusion of the exercise.