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ERMC Facilitates Functional De-Brief– Post Wild Fire Event for Athabasca

In August, 2011, ERMC facilitated a formal debrief of Athabasca participants in the social services and evacuation centre during the Slave Lake Fire. These people were a combination of employees from both Athabasca County and the Town of Athabasca. In addition, the de-brief included numerous supporting volunteers.

Debriefs are not meant to be judgmental, they are however critical in capturing “lessons learned,” and hopefully result in improving response efforts during future emergencies.  Whether the result of “real life” events or simulation exercises, as standard practice–ERMC consultants integrate immediate “hot wash” debriefs and/or organized debriefs as a regular course of business in our daily work.

The onsite debrief, in The Town of Athabasca, allowed for participants from different areas of the emergency response to meet in a controlled and professionally facilitated environment. They were able to identify and review what went well and, where changes could possible by made to improve response and functioning of the evacuation centre.  ERMC was able to provide independence and objectivity to the process, and ensure that all perspectives were addressed.

In total, the formal debrief included approximately 20 individuals who were active in delivering services during the evacuation. As part of the debrief process, ERMC was able to develop and administer an electronic (web-based) survey to all participants.  This confidential survey provided ERMC with key feedback – which then allowed us to structure our agenda and questions for the de-brief in advance. The result, Athabasca was thus assured that core issues of concern to all were in fact addressed during the debrief session.  In addition, this also improved upon the credibility of the debrief process with participants.

Going forward, Athabasca County now has key feedback – both from the electronic survey and formal debrief to action to further improve their ability to manage future events.

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