After an AvSAR incident, it is important for responders to complete post-incident tasks in a timely manner to ensure that their organization is ready to respond to additional callouts. Discussing the details of a response also allows everyone to learn and grow, and prevent operational issues in the future.
All equipment must be returned to a state of readiness when a rescue operation is complete. Equipment must be re-stocked and completely dry. Rescue caches should be re-stocked and any used documentation forms are to be replaced with blank copies. Ideally, the responders will have time to rest physically, mentally, and emotionally. Then, the operation as a whole is reset and ready to respond again.
All responders must be aware of the importance of preserving an incident scene for further investigation. Any evidence at the scene will aid in the post-incident investigation. Clues found on scene may provide valuable information as to the subjects’ locations both before and after the avalanche.
Responders should consider the following points throughout the AvSAR response:
It remains critical to discuss and document how the operation unfolded to determine if any issues need to be resolved prior to the next AvSAR incident. In general, there are two primary types of debriefs: An operation debrief and a critical incident stress debrief (CISD).
Operational Debrief. The purpose of the operation debrief is to determine what was done well and what could be done better in the future. The process may identify a list of action items or recommendations to be addressed by the appropriate person.
An operational debrief can be formal or informal, depending on its objectives:
Critical Incident Stress Debrief. A CISD is a strategy to manage the acute emotional responses of emergency workers exposed to traumatic events. These sessions are typically run by trained mental health professionals. The purpose of a CISD is to provide immediate intervention after a traumatic event and allow individuals to talk about the incident. The process may provide responders with coping skills and allow them to make sense of the incident.
The timing for a CISD may or may not be appropriate immediately post incident. Standard practice is to offer these sessions two to three days following the incident.