Critiques are one of the most effective ways Pincher SAR has to improve the manner in which it works. The purpose of a critique is not to be critical but to share an understanding of what worked well and what could be improved. By building on this shared understanding, Pincher SAR can continuously improve its responses.
Pincher SAR performs a critique after all but minor incidents.
In order to have an effective critique, we try to adhere to these principles.
 Neutral knowledgeable facilitator
The person selected to chair the critique and manage the critique process should not have been involved in the incident. A critique should not be hindered by the blind spots that we each have. If the facilitator is someone that was involved in the incident, especially a member of the overhead team or Incident Commander, there's a risk that if one of their personal blind spots affected the incident, they will still be blind to it and not see it as needing discussion.
The facilitator should be a knowledgeable person. He or she should understand the subject matter (in our case SAR). This usually means someone with Search Management training. A knowledgeable chair can understand the points being raised and not slow down or misdirect the conversation.
 Invite all stakeholders
A critique should take a look at all aspects of the incident. It is an opportunity for all players to brainstorm together to understand ways of improving.
As such, all people that have a stake in the incident should be invited. This typically means Pincher SAR invites the other SAR groups that participated along with the police and other government agencies. We invite everyone who participated, regardless of their role in the incident. (E.g. field searchers, call-out personnel, overhead team members, spontaneous searchers, the subject, and family).
Attending a critique is a valuable learning experience even if you couldn't respond to the incident. We invite all of our members to attend all critiques.
Sometimes we have to limit the number of participants to an effective maximum size of 20 to 30. If we think the numbers are too large, we would selectively invite representatives from all stakeholders and supply an alternative means of input for the others.
There will always be some people that cannot attend the critique. They should be invited to submit their feedback directly to the facilitator.
 Respect confidentiality
Searches are usually done on behalf of the police and often there will be requirements to keep some or much of the information confidential. These requirements should be reiterated before entering into the discussions.
 Facts first
Before getting into discussions, all the participants should know the facts. This allows all the participants to discuss ideas with a clearer understanding of the situation.
A written summary of the incident should be prepared prior to the critique. This is typically drafted by the last Incident Commander. If there is time, it should be circulated prior to meeting and additions and feedback incorporated.
At the critique the written summary should be read, or if one has not been completed then a verbal report can be given. Any corrections should be taken and the summary updated.
 Focus on learnings
A critique is not about criticism. It should not become a forum for blame or guilt.
Instead a critique should be about learning. All participants should agree to focus on bringing out ideas that will help improve the response to future incidents.
Learnings can come from things that didn't work well and ideas on how to change them. But it's just as important to bring up learnings from things that worked well and should be repeated or further developed.
 Ideas, not decisions
The critique is a brainstorming session. Many of the ideas that are brought up during the critique will take some serious thought before they are implemented. We don't want the meeting to get bogged down in debate. So the focus should be on capturing the idea and not on deciding whether or not to implement it. Sometimes the decision will be obvious, but most often it's better to leave the idea as a suggestion directed to the parts of the organization that would normally handle such ideas.
Pincher SAR has a number of committees that specialize in areas of governance, budget, standard operating procedures, call-out, equipment, training and membership.
 Discuss around functional areas
After an incident of any size there is a lot to discuss. If every person brings up every point they can think of, the meeting will be so long that everyone would be exhausted.
To bring out the most relevant points and focus discussion, the chair should walk the meeting through the functional areas of the incident one by one. E.g. Call-Out, Search Techniques, Demobilization. There is a list of possible functional areas in the sample agenda below. Usually there won't be enough time to discuss all functional areas so the facilitator should select the ones that are likely to be most relevant.
 Round table
After the functional areas have been discussed, enough time should be left near the end of the meeting for a round table. This allows any important idea that hasn't been raised to be brought out. Often it's here that you'll hear from those who have otherwise been very quiet through out the meeting.
 Leading up to the critique
- Prepare for the meeting
- Pick a time (Tuesday evening?) when most participants in the search are available.
- book a room (Fire Hall, MD Meeting Room, Town Hall Gym)
- Announce by e-mail or call out.
- Have someone (usually the last Search Manager involved) draft a 1 page summary of the incident. (see Template:Incident Report)
- Review the Incident Report. If you have questions, check the incident files.
- Decide which are the most important functional areas to discuss.
- Invite the tasking agency and other organizations we worked with to send a representative. Many SAR groups are listed at: http://www.saralberta.ca
- Decide whether snacks are needed and arrange them.
- Collect suggestions from those members that can't attend.
Your effort: 1 hr
 At the critique
Your effort: 1.5 hrs
- Chair the meeting.
- Your function is to focus and facilitate the discussion. Let the participants do most of the talking. If you get involved in bringing out your own suggestions or teaching, it's very easy to get distracted from your facilitation role. Perhaps you can add any suggestions you have to the report in the same way as you'll add any suggestions emailed to you by those who could not attend.
- Ask someone to take detailed notes. This shouldn't be someone who will be doing a lot of talking during the critique (e.g. a central person in the incident).
 Sample agenda
(usually there is not enough time for all of these items; focus on the important ones)
- sign in (to the critique)
- note taker
- brief report from person in charge of post op activities (last search manager?) re expenses, lost and found, work needing doing, etc.
- what a critique is
- learning, improvement
- suggestions, ideas
- how suggestions will be distributed
- committees that will make decisions on suggestions
- incident summary (from draft report)
- functional areas of incident (there likely will only be time to cover the most significant)
- The leading questions are just to help the participants think about the subject matter of the functional area. The chair can read them if the participants are stumped about what to say about a functional area. They don't have to be asked or answered, if the group is already jumping into discussion about the functional area.
- leading questions: Does our team have a mandate to respond to these types of situations? Should it? Are there other organizations that have a mandate to be involved?
- first notification / tasking
- leading questions: Was the emergency detected promptly? How was it detected? Who called who? Was the magnitude of the emergency assessed correctly at the start? What means were used for this assessment? Are any guides or aids needed to assist emergency evaluation? Was our information adequate?
- leading questions: When was Callout notified? Was it appropriate to mobilize PCSAR resources and was this promptly initiated? How could the response time improve? Was a search manager notified promptly? Were search personnel notified promptly? Were the appropriate type of personnel requested? Were there people that met the criteria that were not called? Was their an appropriate response? Were contact numbers up to date?
- leading questions: What investigations were happening beyond the search effort? What information was key to shaping the search? What could be done to obtain trustworthy information in a timely manner?
- leading questions: Were communications adequate? What technology was or could have been used? Did messages get passed when they were needed? Was communications clear and accurate?
- leading questions: How were teams briefed? Were they provided sufficient background information? Did they understand their assignment and operating procedures? Were teams efficiently debriefed? Did all the information that was needed get recorded?
- leading questions: What was the initial strategy for response to this emergency? What techniques proved effective? How did the stategy evolve and change during the emergency and how were thes changes implemented? What problems did seachers encounter? What improvements could be made in searching?
- access/return from segment
- leading questions: How was access to/from the search segments?
- leading questions: How was the subject extricated? What would have made it more complicated? Was the team prepared for the possible situations?
- stand down
- leading questions: When was the decision made to stand down? Were there problems demobolizing?
- leading questions: What were/could have been the critical stresses on this incident? What support was available/used?
- prevention, public education
- leading questions: How could this incident have been prevented? Was this incident used to educated the public?
- leading questions: How did responders get to and from their home/station to the site? Were convoys used? Was there a need for people to check in when they returned? Was travel safety evaluated?
- Plans Section
- leading questions: What preplans were in place to help with this incident? Were maps, situation reports, weather and hazard forecasts provided to all who needed them? Was the selection of team assignments guided by analysis of the situation? Was the plan for the next op period ready before it started? Were clues, PODs, map updates and recommendations from the field being used to focus search efforts and provide updated information to teams going to the field?
- Logistics Section
- leading questions: What teams/personnel/equipment/materiel was mobilized? How were they mobilized? How did utilization change with time? Were resources used effectively? Were they easy to obtain? Do we have adequate knowledge of resource availability? Are there other resources in our team that we didn't know we had?
- leading questions: Who performed the functions of the Safety Officer? How were safety concerns identified? What safety issues arose? What near misses were there? How were safety issues addressed? How was it verified that individuals had the skills, physical and mental comfort for what they were asked to do?
- leading questions: How was the media handled? What problems were encountered?
- leading questions: What support did the family need? What critical information came from the family? Was the family kept informed? Did we use other teams to link with family in other communities?
- post ops
- leading questions: What were the major post op activities? When was the team fully ready to be deployed again? Was this work left to only a few volunteers?
- leading questions: How could this critique have been made a stronger learning opportunity? For exercises, how did/could the goals/techniques promote learning?
- leading questions: Are there any subject areas we haven't touched on?
- round table (anyone have points that they need to bring up that wasn't already mentioned)
 After the critique
- Edit the incident summary to include information that came out in the critique.
- Sort and write up the suggestions (we have examples of this). See PCSAR Doc-97
- Assign suggestions to be reviewed by PC SAR board, PC SAR preplan committee, PC SAR equipment committee, PC SAR call out committee, PC SAR training committee or one of our partner organizations.
- Forward your report to each group.
- Send the sign-in list from the critique to the Membership Coordinator.
- Update this page on the wiki to make it easier and better to run another critique.
Your effort: 2.5 hrs.
 Critique notes
- 2009-05-05 : mock search, Anderson search
- 2009-09-23 : Perry search
- 2010-03-21 : avalanche, mock search
- 2010-08-24 : quad, Table Mountain incidents
- 2012-04-25 : for 2012-04-14 Honda CRV search
- 2012-06-06 : re Victoria Peak
- 2012-10-02 Mock/Critque
- 2013-02-23 Mock/Critque
- 2013-07-07 Carpenter Creek/critique for 2013-06-20 search
- 2013-07-07 High River assist 2013-06-24
- 2013-09-17 : for 2013-09-14 Westcastle Hike
- 2013-10-15 Waterton spot response
- 2014-01-20 Oldman Dam
- 2014-03-03 No. 1 : for 2014-02-17 South Castle snowmobilers
- 2014-03-03 No. 2 : for 2014-02-23 CMR skier