During simple call like a room and contents fire, it's usually fairly easy to evaluate progress.
The black smoke turns to white steam, the fire goes out, the building cools down, we go home, and the invetigators take over. The next morning, the local newspaper reports the wins and losses...hopefully with a box score that reads "Fire Department wins, 1 to 0". The local paper usually isn't shy about reporting the score when we're on the losing end, either.
Have you ever seen the morning paper report a tie score?
I've never seen a "Fire 1, Fire Department 1" front page box score. That means that eventually we figured out who won, but during the fight, it wasn't easy to tell. We can have a smoky fire that's difficult to find, even with thermal imagers. We can have a prolonged entrapment at a motor vehicle accident with so much wreckage that it's difficult to tell if we're making real progress or not. We can have a major incident where it takes days to find all of the problems and weeks to sort them out.
I've found a simple way to evaluate progress that works on almost any incident type...you just have a SEET. SEET is a simple set of four strategy considerations that you ask yourself Jeopardy style...in the form of a question.
Safety - Are we being safe? If we don't create additional patients, properly care for the people who were injured before we arrived, and operate using safety equipment, PPE, and while practicing safe behaviors, then we're being safe. If we're injuring responders, operating carelessly, or not wearing appropriate PPE, then we're not being safe.
Effectiveness - Are we being effective? Are we getting the job done? Can we tell? Task completion is the easiest way to measure effectiveness, but on a prolonged incident, task completion might have to be broken down into a subset of smaller tasks. "Cut through Beam A by 4 PM" or "Defensively confine the fire to the structure of origin if we can't extinguish the fire offensively in the next ten minutes" are pretty obvious measures of effectiveness.
Efficiency - Are we being efficient? Did we do an accurate size-up and take the right tools to the building or wrecked vehicle the first time, or did we have to send firefighters back to the rig for something that was forgotten or not anticipated? Did we split a four-firefighter crew so that they could accomplish two simultaneous tactical objectives? Are we operating in a manner that looks calm, smooth, and professional?
Timeliness - Are we doing things in a timely manner? Are we doing things at the right time and in the right sequence. Timeliness includes getting water on the room and contents before it extends, stabilizing the wrecked vehicle prior to applying tons of force to the it...and to the patient's cervical spine injury, and in performing tactical priorities in the correct sequence for the situation. RECEO-VS is a mneumonic invented by a Timeliness fan.
I don't know about you, but I'm having a SEET the next time I want the paper to report a win for the firefighters.