Timeless Tactical Truths

The following provides a list of “timeless tactical truths” that remind emergency managers and response personnel why they need to plan and prepare.


IF YOU KNOW OR THINK OF OTHER TTT's.... feel free to e-mail to EnviroEmerg and will be added to the list.


  • Move quick-young conditions are easier to control that old ones.
  • The very worst emergency plan is no plan (the worst is two plans).
  • To fail to plan is to plan to fail.
  • The fewer parts of the plan, the fewer things can get screwed up.
  • You gotta have a plan before you can revise it.
  • Its people that respond, not plans nor policies.
  • Hope for the best – plan for the worst.
  • The only safe emergency assumption is to assume the worst.
  • If you have lots of ideas, you need lots of resources.
  • Don’t add resources to a non-plan.
  • A little effort in the beginning can eliminate the need for lots of effort at the end.
  • Safety prevents meetings.
  • Effective command is made up of equal parts of passion and patience  the trick is the where and when of each. 
  • Unless the walls are falling, the Incident Commander shouldn’t yell or run – neither reflects cleverness or composure.
  • The capable Incident Commander always approaches the team with high expectations and kindness.
  • You can fool the spectators, but you can’t fool the players.
  • All emergencies go away eventually.
  • Trust safety not luck (luck makes you DUMB)
  • Something is wrong if you keep inheriting bad situations.
  • Emergency management is the very smartest form of manual labour – respect the task.
  • When you’re having problems, take on a partner to share them.
  • Don’t spend all your chops – always have a tactical reserve.
  • Remember courage is only fear that has said its prayers.
  • Good procedures are so simple you don’t need to write them down to remember them or use a dictionary to understand them.
  • Keep working on the basics – most of us are not advanced enough to make advanced mistakes.
  • Educational times in the field are not always fun times.
  • Consistent emergency reality: if you’re gonna order, you gotta pay the check.
  • Experience and education are like oregano – they must be mixed with a lot of other stuff to be good.
  • Its difficult to get a little excited.
  • The treatment for screwed-up situations: education, training, reflection, and getting to do it again.
  • Be careful of people who attach status to knowing things you don’t.
  • Combining strategic modes (offensive/defensive) is like ordering artillery on yourself.
  • The essence of emergency management, is that the emergency, and the Incident Commander can’t live in the same space – one has to leave.
  • Beware of the Incident Commander who says, “Don’t do anything until I get there.”
  • Never is a long time.
  • The role of the effective Incident Commander is to direct and support the troops.
  • Avoid the folks who say regular safety procedures take too long during difficult times (when you really need them).
  • Standard management cycle: procedures – training – execution – critiquing- revising and back around.
  • Manage procedures – lead people.
  • There isn’t any middle ground in emergency response – you’re either responding or you’re not responding.
  • If you think training is expensive, check out the cost of ignorance.
  • Effective analysis must always be mixed with response to control the emergency.
  • Don’t ever develop a plan that is so smart you can’t explain it to the people who have to carry it out.
  • Procedures don’t have feelings.
  • If you can’t control yourself, you can’t control anything else.
  • Surprises are nice on your birthday.
  • If you live with a bad situation long enough, you wear it.
  • Effective communications = 1 part talking and 10 parts listening.
  • Take the process seriously – not yourself.
  • The things that lead up to accidents happen slowly – the accident happens fast.
  • There are no credit cards on the emergency site – you’ve got to pay for everything you do at the time you do it.
  • The more seniority a screw up gets, the harder it is to fix – this applies to both the emergency operations and (unfortunately) responders.
  • The Incident Commander has to always go after the right piece on information at the right time; if you ask if everything is okay, it always is.
  • If you aren’t dressed to play, stay in the bleachers and off the field.
  • Considering what was going on at the time a decision was made will many times effectively refocus 20-30 hindsight.
  • The Incident Commander must always initiate and move toward correct action. He must also be prepared and capable of stopping incorrect, unsafe action – he absolutely cannot live with a bad situation.
  • They generally don’t call and environmental emergency response team because someone did something smart.
  • The Incident Commander should be the first person who thinks the emergency is present and the last to believe it is over.
  • Every emergency situation contains a discreet number of decisions – they can be made either by the Incident Commander or by the incident.
  • Do not think you communicating just because you are talking.
  • When someone screws up, ask the standard question, “Who taught him how to do it?”
  • The longer you wait to make a decision, the fewer options you will have.
  • The responder must be careful of what he says in difficult situations – offhanded, dumb command comments are like aluminium beer cans – they last forever in the environment.
  • Basic emergency frequency axiom: the farther you are from the last emergency the closer you are to the next one.
  • The responder must always be able to separate what is a hope from what is a plan.
  • There is no necessary connection between the amount of boom in the water and the amount of oil that collected. 
  • The smart responder can tell what is going to happen – any dope can tell what has (already) happened.
  • The more routine decisions the responder makes before the emergency the more time he will have to make critical decisions during the emergency


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Comments: 1
  • #1

    asesora imagen (Tuesday, 26 December 2017 08:28)

    Excellent website you have here, so much cool information!..

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