Training, Drilling, and Exercising Toolkit

4.0 After-Action Reviews

Following any drill, exercise or planned event that utilizes processes and protocols of the multi-hazard emergency operations plan, an after-action review (AAR) should be conducted. The AAR is an essential component of the Evaluation and Improvement step in the Preparedness Cycle.

An after-action review is a structured review or debrief process that analyzes actions during an incident or emergency. It is designed to provide feedback on what went right, what went wrong as well as gathering data and perspectives from responders to create lessons learned and to guide improvements to plans and response.

Sometimes an AAR is also referring to an After Action Report which is the documentation of the After Action Review Process. Capturing the findings of a review is essential to the preparedness cycle. In addition the term “Hot Wash” may also be used. This is a guided discussion usually held immediately following an exercise or event, while elements of the exercise are fresh on participants’ minds and to capture perspectives of those that may not be available for a later review.

preparedness cycle