Guidelines for Briefing Exercise Participants

These Guidelines can help you prepare for a pre-exercise briefing by adapting them for their own use. You need to include additional points relevant only to your organization and personnel.

It’s essential that all persons who will or could take part in an exercise are fully briefed. Failure to do so could lead to the possibility of litigation should someone who has taken part in the exercise suffer physical or mental injury, citing poor advanced preparation by the organizers as a contributory factor.

Your briefing must be fairly close to the exercise date (i.e. not more than one month beforehand). The degree to which participants are briefed will vary according to the type of exercise being held. For example, it’s unlikely that the same depth of briefing will be required for a table top exercise as for a live exercise.

Essential Briefing Points

A verbal and written list of all participants in the exercise should be presented at the beginning of the briefing. You’ll want to include the following in your main briefing:

The exercise will take place between the following dates ________________and/or the following times _________/_____________. The approximate duration of the exercise is __________________
The exercise code name is ________________ (e.g. "Exercise Canada Prepare"). The exercise code name should be used as a prefix on all written, radio, TV, and telephone messages relating to the exercise.
This is/is not a multi-organizational exercise. The other organizations involved are _____________________________________________.

The exercise scenario will/will not involve the following:

  1. Simulated casualties
  2. Hazardous substances
  3. Simulated hazardous substances
  4. Simulated fire/ smoke
  5. Flood

A safety officer will be present, identified by ________________
Exercise directors will be present, identified by ______________
Exercise observers will/will not be present identified by ____________
Any concerns regarding personal health and safety or the health and safety of others during the exercise should be drawn to the attention of the safety officer or an exercise director immediately. An assessment will then be made as to whether the exercise can continue.
If a genuine injury is sustained (as opposed to a simulated injury), use and repeat the code word "_______________" to attract attention - under no circumstances should these words be used by role playing casualties.
Notification of exercise suspension/abandonment / completion will be given by _______________ (e.g. code words or audible signals.)
****A health and safety risk assessment has been undertaken and your attention is drawn to the following (if applicable):

  • Protective clothing/equipment required, over and above standard issue
  • Areas of the site which are prohibited
  • Physical hazards on site _____________ (sharp points, trip hazards etc.)

All participants in the briefing now have the opportunity to raise questions relevant to health and safety.

Any participants who wish to raise concerns about their personal health and safety or to pose questions relevant to health and safety after this briefing but before the exercise should see _________________ or their manager.

Will all participants ensure that they have signed the briefing attendance sheet which will be kept on record?

(***) A "health and safety risk assessment" of the planned exercise is essential good practice. The method to undertake this should be an early consideration of the Exercise Planning Group. Each participating organization must assess whether there is a the need for an individual assessment or whether one organization (e.g. the Fire Department along with the site owners) should undertake the risk assessment and share information with other participating organizations.