Evaluate the Response of Emergency Preparedness Efforts
After an emergency or disaster, it is important to evaluate the response. Doing so will support continued
recovery and build resilience. A post-emergency evaluation should focus on assessing the relevance and success
of response activities — what worked well and why. It should also focus on identifying and applying
lessons learned for planning, response, and recovery.
Post-emergency evaluation should:
Prioritize community involvement, including local and community-based organizations
Ensure inclusivity and equity of diverse community populations, particularly those disproportionately
affected by the emergency or disaster
Link to frameworks used in disaster recovery
Identify improvements for future emergencies in order to support and strengthen capacity for future
preparedness and response
Monitor, evaluate, and learn from actual events, both positive and negative
Collect information to communicate to others and identify strategies that can be shared with other rural
After Action Reports
An After Action
Report (AAR) is a detailed review and summary of the disaster and response process. The purpose is to
analyze decisions and identify opportunities to increase capacity for future emergencies. Communities should
complete an AAR immediately after the emergency or disaster event. Common elements of an AAR are an event
overview or summary, analysis of capabilities, conclusions, and improvement plans. Common questions to ask when
creating an AAR include:
- Were the response strategies appropriate for this hazard?
- Were the communication and response timely and coordinated?
- What were the strengths and weaknesses of the response?
- What gaps exist and how should they be addressed?
An AAR offers a time to reflect on lessons learned for future scenarios and inform future preparedness planning.
The COVID-19 After Action
Toolkit provides resources and examples of AARs specific to COVID-19 response and recovery.
When evaluating a response, it is important for rural communities to consider evaluation goals, timelines, and
available resources. AARs focus on an organization's activities, and it is also important to gather feedback
from the community. This may include determining community perspectives on the effectiveness of the response.
Data collection tools, assessment software, report production resources, time, and expertise are some of the
resources needed that organizations must consider.
Partners are important for supporting evaluation and can help with establishing goals and executing evaluations
in a timely manner. For example, nonprofit or non-governmental organizations involved in disasters can assist
with data collection as they provide services to community members, local universities and academia also can
support data collection and ongoing assessment, and emergency management organizations can interpret lessons
learned. Once the response is evaluated, communities and organizations can integrate the insights into their
recovery efforts and preparedness plans for future disasters.
Resources to Learn More
Provides information on post-emergency evaluations with links to toolbox content, publications, trainings, and
examples of After Action Reviews.
Organization(s): World Health Organization
Learned from School Crises and Emergencies
Defines “After Action Reports” and shows how the reports can be interpreted into lessons
Organization(s): Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)