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Tips on Writing an H1N1 AAR

July 21, 2010

group around computer

Gathering lessons learned on H1N1 is an important and difficult task. Some have asked “Where to begin?”

For this reason, NACCHO has provided templates on how to put together an After Action Report (AAR) using the standards provided by the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). NACCHO also spoke with representatives from local health departments (LHDs) to ask what kinds of findings and obstacles their AARs may have provided.

The Kane County Health Department (IL) had a multi-pronged AAR process that reviewed initial response and mass vaccination clinic efforts. While the HSEEP template was used, it was tailored to suit the characteristics of an actual response activity and to capture any additional information that may not have been included.

Each of the three AARs produced were the result of a hotwash meeting and reviewed the health department’s own response, in addition to evaluating data from vaccination clinic patients, staff, volunteers, and partner agencies.

“The challenge for an event that extended so long is accurately capturing all of the activity and analyzing the response,” said Christopher Hoff, emergency response coordinator with the Kane County Health Department. “It is very difficult to tailor the AAR to reflect a real event because you have likely covered many different target capabilities rather than the three or four you may select for an exercise.”

Hoff also pointed out that, in an actual and ongoing response, some corrective actions may have already been taken by the time the Improvement Plan is being written.

Hoff offers several tips:

  • Collect documentation throughout the process. “This aids in covering all of that information in the AAR process,” said Hoff.
  • Conduct formal hotwash and evaluation meetings to give structure to the after action process.
  • Consider surveying partner agencies, clients, and staff using an online tool (such as SurveyMonkey  or Zoomerang). “Frequently, there are more issues which arise through the survey than are brought up during face-to-face meetings.”

Do you have any useful tips to share? Comment below.


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