Coordinated Consulting Services (CCS) was hired in May 2022 by Clackamas County, Oregon to conduct data collection and a full analysis of Clackamas County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing a COVID-19 After Action Report (AAR) and Improvement Plan (IP). The AAR/IP was to focus on strengths, areas for improvement, and recommendations regarding the processes, procedures, capabilities, and response operations of Clackamas County in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The final AAR/IP was designed to meet the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) guidelines. The original scope of work was to end on September 30, 2022.
In March of 2022, Clackamas County issued a Request for Quotes (RFQ) for a consultant to develop the county’s COVID-19 AAR/IP. The objective of this project was to document countywide strengths and areas for improvement in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the pandemic, including an improvement plan matrix. This project was slated to include a series of virtual group and individual interviews and surveys and an analysis of response documentation, which ultimately would inform the final AAR/IP. Upon completion of the draft AAR/IP, CCS was to conduct an in-person After Action Meeting (AAM) to validate the AAR/IP and to prioritize recommendations.
CCS worked closely with the Clackamas County Public Health and Disaster Management departments to form a core planning team and to identify an expanded planning team. The purpose of the core planning team was to provide overall management and direction of the AAR/IP development; identify additional subject matter experts as needed; review and provide feedback on report content and other data collection inputs; direct the scope and timeline; and attend both core and expanded planning team meetings. The expanded planning team consisted of several Public Health, Disaster Management, and County Manager executives who attended the Initial, Mid, and Final Planning Meetings.
The CCS team reviewed Clackamas County’s COVID-19 response documentation including plans, procedures, guidance, technical documentation, policies, and other relevant response documents. This review helped to inform the AAR/IP timeline and other core concepts such as direction and control, roles and responsibilities, general operating structures, and organizational culture.
CCS engaged with the core planning team to develop a data collection strategy that was utilized for group and individual interviews and surveys. CCS executed the surveys and interviews and tracked all interview data. CCS also organized and analyzed interview responses and survey data using mapping and coding into the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Core Capabilities. CCS and Clackamas County also held several large meetings throughout the AAR/IP development including Initial, Mid, and Final Planning Meetings. These planning meetings served to provide project updates, confirm data collection strategies, and discuss the project’s strategic direction.
In the fall of 2022, the core planning team decided to extend the project end date to March 2023 in order to accommodate additional interviews and allow for more time to conduct the After Action Meeting and prepare a detailed After Action Meeting Summary Report. CCS drafted the AAR/IP which included a separate Executive Summary. The Executive Summary would later be translated into Russian and Spanish by Clackamas County. The draft AAR/IP included a full analysis of the data collected including strengths, areas for improvement, and recommendations based on the findings identified.
The Clackamas County COVID-19 After Action Meeting (AAM) was held in-person on March 9, 2023, and included several Clackamas County staff and leadership from various county departments. The AAM was organized into five main sections After Action Report Summary; Celebrating Successes and Strengths; Improvement Planning Process; Review of Recommendations, Ranking, and Responsibilities; and Moving the Work Forward and Next Steps. Participants met to review a pre-selected set of recommendations and attempted to refine the recommendations, discuss responsible departments, and discuss the feasibility of conducting corrective actions relative to the recommendations.
Clackamas County staff and their community response partners were able to a manage long-term pandemic response while addressing other emergencies occurring at the same time (i.e., wildfire and ice storm). Responding to these emergencies required coordination across the public health and healthcare system and collaboration between local, state, and federal community-based and response organizations. The strengths and areas for improvement documented in the AAR/IP can be used to enhance preparedness across the County by improving plans; equipment, supplies, and systems; developing training programs; and conducting preparedness drills and exercises. In addition to preparing the County for future disease outbreaks and pandemics, the lessons learned through this response can be used to build resilience for all types of emergencies and disasters.