A LESC Discourse: Establishing the Discipline to Train and Invest in Preparedness is an ongoing series of articles discussing training and preparedness, learning, unlearning and relearning to develop insight, innovation and initiative to deal with conventional and unconventional problems and threats.
Plan an advantage by listening. Adjust to the situation. Get assistance from the outside. Influence events. Then planning can find opportunities and give you control. ~Sun Tzu
This post is for leaders and frontline professionals willing to assess the situation within their agencies in regards to training, preparation, readiness and response capabilities, who need ideas on how to keep training regular and relevant, at the strategic, operational and tactical levels of your organization, in these tough uncertain and economic times. To be more successful in performing our duties at the level of professionalism needed in handling dynamic encounters, crisis situations we must train and train often at individual, team, agency and interagency levels. The investment in training to prepare for conflict and crisis situations requires discipline and strength of character. The payoffs of training and preparation are high yield results that save lives.
Are We Truly Prepared and Ready to Lead Under Emergency Conditions?
People that work with and for you make your organization what it is. An investment in preparing them to handle the types of problems they face and hence you face, is an investment in being a more successful organization. Training in my view is “practice” and practice makes us better at what we do, not perfect, but much, much better. I say not perfect and I am often questioned as to why not, PERFECT? My answer is we will strive to mitigate the effects of crisis, rather than cause or add to a crisis situation. We will work to reverse or reduce the effects of an emergency situation, which will lead to more lives saved. Quite frankly the current state training and preparedness is in at this time, perfection in crises, in the unexpected, uncertain and rapidly unfolding and changing circumstances is still based in the complacency of “it will not happen here” and react mode. The size and scope of the crisis and the sense of chaos and confusion it creates in victims and those responding, leads to information overload and makes developing an adequate response a challenge.
In responding to crises and rendering aid, first responders must constantly assess the changing conditions, and adapt plans to meet these unfolding conditions with an adequate set-up and response to save lives. This assessment includes not only; “what’s happening now” but it also entails organizing initial responding officers and other first responders in establishing command and control, communications, indentifying the threats and the danger or kill zones. This initial assessment and “set-up” is crucial to the overall effectiveness of the response and is directly related to the outcome. If our initial response brings a semblance of control to chaos and helps us realize, get a better picture of what’s going on, then a viable response can be initiated quickly based on a sound strategy and effective methods and tactics to mitigate the situation. If we respond out of emotion and take reckless action, then we lose control of the situation and it becomes more chaotic and only leads to more uncertainty and confusion and our efforts spiral downwardly to an ineffective response.
First responder’s decision making cycles (OODA Loops) must constantly be updated based on the rapidly unfolding circumstances and the implicit and explicit knowledge they have, which allows them to set up perimeters. First the inner perimeter or a tactical rally point which is where the tactical decisions get made, contact and rescue teams are established and the initial response is initiated. This happens relatively quickly from seconds to minutes based on the overall situation.
While first responders take action to stop the threat and rescues are taking place and the crisis evolves, additional resources are called in to assist and can take from several minutes, hours, and days to arrive based on the scope and the scale of what you are dealing with. These additional resources may be needed to assist in the tactical response; locating the threats and recue activities or to enhance the overall response with support activities such as: establishing a larger outer perimeter for containment purposes. Setting up command post and staging areas who work together getting additional resources needed to assist in mitigating the crisis. This requires even greater coordination and communication amongst the various agencies responding and is also part of this support role and crucial aspect of bringing a successful conclusion to crises.
When crises happen in the unexpected way they normally do, along with the complacent mindsets we possess as a society, organizationally or individually in relation to conflict and crises, we simply cannot prevent every bad thing from happening despite our best efforts. But with training and preparation (individual, group, agency intra and interagency wide) we can get much better at how we prepare which leads to more effective initiative driven actions before, during and in the aftermath of crises situations.
One of the main reasons for my analysis is that preparation and response to crisis situations takes practice and experience to lead, respond to, make decisions and take action, dealing with an emergency event. It takes discipline and dedication at all levels federal, state, local, organizational, individual and the citizenry learning, unlearning and relearning from each experience if we are to become better at how we work in crises.
We are nowhere near ready, we are sadly still in the talking stage and must move in a proficient way to the walking the talk stage and preparing first responders law enforcement, security, fire and medical personnel, citizens, etc through realistic training that prepares them/us for what potentially lies ahead.
Next post in this discourse “Establishing the Discipline to Train and Invest in Preparedness” we will discuss: Is Preparedness a Game or Something Much More Serious?