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After an Event: Debriefing an Event

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Debrief and Conduct an After Action Review with Staff and Partners

Debriefing after an advisory helps organizations and communities understand what happened and why it happened during a drinking water advisory. A debriefing offers an opportunity to voice concerns and offer potential improvements. It often is informal and may be led by a neutral facilitator.

The format and size of the debriefing is based on the scope and scale of the drinking water advisory. In general, each division or organization that participated should be involved. Debriefings may benefit from having the perspective of an organization that was not involved but was affected by the drinking water advisory.

An After Action Review (AAR) is a structured form of debriefing that can compare planning with real activity. AARs can provide a clear understanding of what contributed to success and how to replicate it in the future. They also can provide a common understanding of where improvements can be made and who will be responsible for following through on agreed action steps. AARs describe outcomes and planned actions.

The debriefing and AAR process and tools can be adapted for individual exercises and debriefings. See the Exercise Planning Template.tool icon [DOC - 2 pages]

See the Debriefing Discussion Guidetool icon [DOC - 1 page] as an example.

The following are steps for conducting a debriefing.

  1. Prepare: The Advisory Feedback Formtool icon [DOC - 1 page] can be used to plan a debriefing.
  2. Conduct: Ground rules should be established. Consider using an outside neutral facilitator.
  3. Report: Results of a debriefing can be incorporated into future planning efforts.

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