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What did I learn?

This past January, 41 individuals were trained as how to respond to a Mass Casualty Event as Emergency Services Chaplains. On January 16th, 12 of us took part in responding as a part of Operation Curtain Call which was a Mass Casualty Exercise put together by many groups in the metro area of Twin Cities. The scenario had it that a building collapsed in downtown Minneapolis, which was a concert hall filled with students, parents and staff. Our job as chaplains was to provide support and care with those individuals that were either survivors of the initial event or loved ones of those involved in the event.

It was a very long day in which I learned quite a bit, below are a list of initial thoughts that I plan to expand on in the future.

1. Never assume:

As I would tell something to someone or they would relay to me a piece of information I realized how easy it was to assume and that it could quickly derail what you were trying to do. Ask clarifying questions, be very clear with instructions.

2. Just in time training does not include the phrase "Do what you do well.":

I used that with some of my chaplains and that was not helpful as I had something in my mind of what they would do and they were working through another understanding.

3. Clear leadership is critical:

When sending any group of people to take on a task, especially in crisis situations there must be a leader, who is responsible for the direction, goals and task they are to be working on. To assign a room to a group of people and not put someone in charge does not work. Where there is a leadership vaccuum, bad things happen, even a bad plan is better than no plan at all, as a bad plan can be fixed. 

4. Prepare, Train, Plan and Review:

As I mentioned we had recently completed training and had competent chaplains working with us that day. What I did not do, is review the plan the days before and give my chaplains all the information they could have had for the event. I did not spend time preparing, coming up with the teams and where I would want them to be,  how I would do just in time training with my chaplains. 


This the start of many conversations and blog posts, so I hope you will join me.


John LeMay

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