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After-Action Report released for Waldo Canyon details response

By Rachael Plath, Good Morning Colorado Meteorologist/Reporter, r.plath@krdo.com
Published On: Apr 03 2013 06:49:44 PM CDT

The Final After Action Report released Wednesday morning details what went well during the Waldo Canyon Fire response, and what needs to be improved.

The final after-action report, released Wednesday morning, is designed to detail what happened, what went well and why, and what can be improved and how.

The more than 100-page document identified strengths during the response.  These strengths included public safety collaboration among city agencies, dedication of personnel, and the effectiveness of previously executed training and exercises.    A wildfire mitigation plan developed in 2001 and an update to the plan finalized in 2011 were also cited as community strengths.  The report also credited the Wildland Urban Interface Fire Evacuation Appendix with providing detailed information, resources and plans for first responders.  This appendix was created in 2008 and updated in 2012.

The report also detailed areas that need to be re-evaluated and improved. 

Recommendations detailed in the report include increasing communication.  It suggests a system or plan be devised to rapidly relay information to first responders as command decisions are made.  The report added that “existing technologies should be reviewed and modified to accomplish this.”

The documentation of dates, times and decisions was another area that needs to become more efficient.  To do this, the report recommends the city train existing staff or volunteers to track real-time information for record-keeping purposes.

Additional training in the incident command system was also recommended to increase the efficiency of these persons during chaotic times.

“We understand there are going to be lessons learned.  We want to be clear and transparent about those.  That’s why we released this very large report,” said Brett Waters, director of the Office of Emergency Management.

Waters said the city has already begun further training to ensure it is ready for whatever comes next.

“We’re having monthly trainings in our workshop operations center with our department heads, our chief of staff, myself, also El Paso County, who is a great partner of Colorado Springs,  Colorado Springs Utilities and many others; working together and really digging into our plans,” said Waters.

The full report can be viewed by clicking here.

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