Writing the New Playbook

From the desk of Captain Jeffrey Monroe, MM, AMPE

Recognizing that we have not gotten through the current pandemic, how can we prepare for the next one? Those who have been involved in emergency management drills always wrap up an exercise with what is called a “hot wash”. To that end, what should we be doing now to undertake a “hot wash” while we are in the midst of dealing with the current pandemic, insofar as we are able to do so safely. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Log all actions and activities undertaken to set up a record of a timeline on how your port or terminal responded to issues and when.

2. Keep a detailed record of your actions including what you did, who was responsible, what you had to ramp up for.

3. Record your interactions with federal, state or provincial, and municipal agencies-what you were asked and what you were directed to do.

4. Make lists of any specialized equipment you needed including what you had on hand, what you needed to order, what it cost, and what was its availability.

5. Make a record of all contacts and vendors and their availability.

6. Note which internal actions worked and what did not such as working from home or who needed to be on site.

7. Note the capability and efficiency of your communications including networks and phone systems.

8. Review how you communicated with senior staff, commissioners and your workers to see what worked and what didn’t.

9. Review your written guidance and how it might be improved.

10. Note how you dealt with vessels and crews as well as operations at terminals and in the ports overall.

11. Look for weaknesses and address them.

I am sure there are other things you can consider. As I learned on 9-11, when something unprecedented happens, there is no play book. When there's no playbook, we have to write a new one. Most of us have realized there isn’t one for this, so a "hot wash" is a great way to get one started. In the midst of our current challenges, the best time to record them is when they are unfolding. Looking at Standard Operating Procedures and noting experiences is the best way to prepare for the next time we face a similar challenge.

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