Initially, the “activation and full operation of the Emergency Operations Center was a slow process due to early hour and lack of dedicated facility” as reported in the GVW Fire Department After-Action Report.Other issues noted were:
- “Accountability system (HazMat wristbands) implemented by [the] Fire Department was not communicated to all responding agencies,” as reported in the Aiken County Emergency Services After-Action Report.
- “Buses used for transport of evacuees were not coordinated with [the] Fire Department incident command,” as reported in the GVW Fire Department After-Action Report.
- “Entry teams from other agencies [were] not coordinated with [the] Fire Department incident command during [the] early hours of [the] incident,” as reported in the GVW Fire Department After-Action Report.
- “Local/National Red Cross point of contact needed at the Command Post to coordinate food for personnel in outlying areas,” as reported in the Aiken County Emergency Services After Action Report.
- “No coordination between [the] Fire Department and Emergency Services during [the] initial incident response,” as reported in the GVW Fire Department After-Action Report.
[The] “lack of coordination between Emergency Operations Center and [initial] Command Post affected logistics, food deliveries, housing, etc. [The] Command Post was duplicating effort, and info[rmation] wasn’t being shared effectively,” as reported in the Aiken County Emergency Services After-Action Report.
Initial coordination appeared to be slightly disjointed due to the discrepancy between the fire chief and the sheriff as to who was the acknowledged incident commander. However, after establishment of the incident command and the realization that there should be no more additional loss of life, the entities then worked as a group with a mission to accomplish. Interviewees mentioned that the entities involved worked well together, cooperated, and functioned as a team eventually. In the GVW Fire Department After-Action Report, it was noted “effective coordination between [the] Fire Department and [the] Emergency Services occurred several hours into [the] incident.”
Also, as noted in the GVW Fire Department After-Action Report, the “Incident Command System process [was] not followed by all responding agencies.” So while the incident command system was acknowledged as working among the interviewees, it apparently was not fully utilized during the Graniteville incident.
The GVW Fire Department activated the South Carolina Mobilization Plan, which allows for a coordinated request for support resources and agencies. Firefighters from around the state and out of state participated in the incident. The fire chief felt it worked well.
The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office has mutual-aid agreements for additional response entities. In addition, as reported in the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office After-Action Report, the“Sheriff contacted neighboring County Sheriffs directly via cell phone to coordinate safe arrival direction to staging area.”
The Aiken County Emergency Services also called in resources. As reported in the Aiken County Emergency Services After-Action Report, “Aiken County Emergency Management Division initialed early request for assistance from [the] South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD). 75% of State Emergency Support Functions were activated.”
February 6, 2006