The main purpose of a hotwash session is to identify strengths and weaknesses of the response to a given event, which then leads to another governmental phase known as "lessons learned," which is intended to guide future response direction in order to avoid repeating errors made in the past. A hotwash normally includes all the parties that participated in the exercise or response activities. These events are used to create the After Action Review.
Hotwash is a term picked up in recent years by the Emergency Preparedness Community (likely as a result of Homeland Security and other government agencies' involvement in disaster planning). It serves as a form of after-disaster briefings for all parties involved to analyze what worked well, what needs improvement, what person or agency needs to be responsible for said improvements, and the assignments and timelines for the noted corrective and proactive improvements to be in place.
Word Origin: The term Hot Wash is derived from the U.S Army:
"The term Hot Wash comes from the practice used by some soldiers of dousing their weapons in extremely hot water as a means of removing grit and residue after firing. While this practice by no means eliminates the need to properly break down the weapon later for cleaning, it removes the major debris and ensures the cleaning process goes more smoothly. One infantry soldier described it as “the quick and dirty cleaning that can save a lot of time later.” (Source: US Department of Defense Education Activity; http://www.dodea.edu/Offices/Safety/upload/11_7.pdf)
The term Hot Wash is also commonly used in the Coast Guard and other seagoing services to describe the use of a fine spray mist of water and lubricants to prevent corrosion in helicopter turbines operated in a heavily saltwater-saturated marine environment. (Ref: Hughes Helicopters maintenance procedure; https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:B3wzyob07ysJ:download.mdhelicopters.com/ETM/pdf/500storage/letters/fl004.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgHTQC7jc-LQT1cxJmbqCAzO1Zwrt4AZDsrdRGg5FLQv1OryYdRcBqVbfQCIHm_64Dom8CksmTNOzuouPQdVSVXXd0_Kw3XADON_hbHtaI8KH-NEMDvlu2rieTGZoKVtGhR4WKZ&sig=AHIEtbTNIXxL-K0rrJrZOA91ZImjg65IHg)
- Johnson, Larry (2004-09-04). "Katrina: Hotwash vs. Whitewash". TPMCafe. Retrieved 2007-11-29.[dead link]
For an example of "hotwash" in the context of "TOP OFF 1" see