Exercise

EXERCISE

Guidelines for the Development of an Exercise Program

Introduction

Conducting an annual exercise is an important component of a holistic emergency management program designed to create disaster resiliency. One of the components of this program is to conduct an annual exercise. These guidelines will assist ministries, communities1, and other organizations in developing a full exercise program, rather than one particular exercise. This is an approach that can materially enhance an organization’s emergency management program.

The Guidelines for the Development of an Exercise Program is a tool that provides a risk-based framework with guidance for planning, conducting, and evaluating exercises. It employs a cycle, mix, and range of exercise activities of varying degrees of complexity and interaction. These guidelines have been written to be consistent with international best practices, including NFPA 1600 and CSA Z1600, and are an important means by which a more comprehensive emergency management program can be achieved.

These guidelines will enable you to test elements of your emergency plan(s), including equipment and the functions of personnel. Specifically, they will be able to plan and conduct exercises, evaluate each exercise, report evaluation results, and follow-up on exercises that were conducted.

To support documents and manuals on developing an exercise program, Emergency Management Ontario (EMO), in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Training Committee (NEMTC), has developed supporting curriculum on exercise design. For further information please see the Emergency Management Ontario Course Catalogue, 2009 or visit the EMO website at www.ontario.ca/emo.

Scope

The intent of this document is to assist ministries, communities, and other organizations in the development of an exercise program, from the initial phases of foundation and design and development, through to the improvement planning process. Rather than presenting a prescriptive process on exercise design, these guidelines seek to provide a standardized process, consistent terminology, and a framework that is practical and flexible for all exercise planners, and all sizes of communities, ministries, and other organizations.

Recognizing that the range of experience with exercise design and development may vary widely amongst ministries, communities, and organizations, these guidelines present a standardized and straightforward process that is adaptable to a wide range of exercise types, scenarios and resources. These guidelines may be implemented in whole or in part, depending on an organization’s needs.

This document is organized into three main sections: Process of Exercise Program Development, Discussion-based Exercises, and Operations-based Exercises. While the first section will focus on introducing concepts in the management of exercises and the various phases involved, the latter two sections provide details on the specific requirements for the conduct of discussion-based and operations-based exercises, respectively. In addition, a list of acronyms, a glossary of definitions, and an annex of additional concepts have been provided for reference and ease of implementation. Appendices containing templates and samples of various exercise design and development tools have been provided for assistance.

Chapter 1: Overview

What is an Exercise?

An exercise is a simulated emergency in which players carry out actions, functions, and responsibilities that would be expected of them in a real emergency. Exercises can be used to validate plans and procedures, and to practice prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities.

Why Exercise?

Well-designed and executed exercises are the most effective means of:

  • Testing and validating plans, policies, procedures, training, equipment, and interagency agreements
  • Training personnel and clarifying roles and responsibilities, as supported by plans and procedures
  • Improving interagency coordination and communications
  • Identifying gaps in resources and training, and identifying areas for improvement
  • Improving individual and organizational performance through practice
  • Demonstrating provincial, community, and organizational resolve to prepare for emergencies as part of due diligence

Multiple Jurisdiction Involvement

Inter-organizational Exercises

Because your capability to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from an emergency will require resources and expertise from various organizations and levels of government, an exercise should assess the capacity of multiple organizations and the effectiveness of interagency cooperation and interoperable communication. The organizations involved in an exercise may be public, private or volunteer, from any level of government, and from disciplines ranging from public health to fire, as long as they reflect the type of exercise and scenario.

Regional/International Exercises

Participation in regional and international exercises is a crucial aspect of emergency preparedness for many organizations. Communities need to plan with their neighbours for emergencies that cross municipal or provincial borders. Disasters do not stop at political borders, and neither should preparedness activities. Inter-provincial and international resources should be incorporated into plans and used as appropriate. Communities should familiarize themselves with the resources available from potential regional and international partners and share their response concepts and standard operating procedures and emergency operating procedures with these groups.

What is an Exercise Program?

An exercise program is a component of preparedness, and may support the prevention and mitigation of, preparedness for, response to, and recovery from all types of emergencies. It is a risk-based cycle, mix, and range of exercise activities of varying degrees of complexity and interaction, and is reviewed annually. While an exercise program is an overarching objective, it can be conceptualized and implemented as a multi-year exercise plan, a document that describes exercise activities over several years, based on the needs of an organization. In this plan, all exercises are evaluated to determine whether identified goals have been achieved and to measure performance.

Multi-year Exercise Plan

A multi-year exercise plan should be based on the needs of a ministry, community, or organization in preparation for emergencies. The plan should be “function” driven to ensure that the weaknesses identified are addressed. Additionally, the makeup and design of the plan are up to your emergency management coordinator.

There are seven key steps in developing a multi-year exercise plan:

1. Exercise scheduling that is coordinated with other jurisdictions in accordance with ministerial, community, or organizational plans

2. A full-scale operations-based exercise that links with other jurisdictions

3. Major exercise activities coordinated through the ministerial, community, or organizational sector and area committee structure

4. Conduct of an annual review of the exercise program to ensure that the objectives are being met, and revising the existing multi-year exercise plan, when required

5. A cycle of activity that includes increasing levels of complexity, including discussion-based and operations-based exercises

6. An After Action Report (AAR) that is prepared following every tabletop, drill, functional exercise, and full-scale exercise

7. A Corrective Action Plan & Improvement Plan (CAP & IP) that is developed and implemented to address findings and recommendations identified in the AAR

Chapter 2: Creating your Program

Program Elements

There are 3 key elements that comprise an exercise program. In principle, an exercise program should be risked-based and in conjunction with your risk assessment profile, and should be reviewed annually. In order to benefit from these guidelines, you are encouraged to incorporate the following elements in their exercise program:

  • Ministries, communities, and organizations should produce a multi-year exercise plan and should update their multi-year exercise schedule on an annual basis. The multi-year exercise plan should be based on a five (5) year schedule. The plan should employ a cycle of activities that includes exercises of increasing levels of complexity, including discussion-based and operations-based exercises.
  • An exercise evaluation plan should be developed and implemented to achieve identifiable goals and measure performance. Part of this Evaluation Plan should be to produce an After Action Report (AAR) following every tabletop exercise (TTX), drill, functional exercise (FE), and a full-scale exercise (FSE).
  • A Corrective Action Plan (CAP), including an Improvement Plan (IP), should be developed and implemented to address findings and recommendations identified in the AAR.

Types of Exercises

Discussion-based Exercises

Discussion-based exercises are exercises that are used to familiarize participants with current plans, policies, agreement, and procedures and to develop new ones. Specific discussion-based exercises include seminars, workshops, tabletop exercises, and games. Discussion-based exercises and their design and development are discussed on page 30.

Operations-based Exercises

Operations-based exercises are exercises that validate plans, policies, agreements, and procedures, clarify roles and responsibilities, and identify resource gaps in an operational environment. Specific operations-based exercises include drills, functional exercises, and full-scale exercises. Operations-based exercises and their design and development are discussed on page 43.

Process of Exercise Program Development

This section provides a brief overview of exercise program development and the process of designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating exercises.

The five phases of Exercise Program Management Exercise Program Management Cycle

Exercise program management functions as a cycle that starts with a foundation and a plan, and moves into the design and development stage. It moves on to exercise execution, and finally an evaluation. The program then proceeds into the corrective action and improvement planning stages.

To establish a foundation for designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating an exercise, program management is essential and involves the following tasks: developing a project management timeline and establishing milestones, identifying a planning team, and scheduling planning conferences and meetings.

Multi-year exercise cycle - Tabletop exercise to functional exercise to full-scale exercise.
Cycle, Mix, and Range of Exercises

The multi-year exercise plan should define a cycle of exercise activity that employs increasing degrees of complexity, and engages diverse and varied staff/organizations. The risk assessment profile, experience, and preparedness levels of your organization will enable planners to identify appropriate exercises and provide a foundation for future participation in more complex events. An effective exercise program uses a combination of exercise types to effectively accomplish exercise-specific objectives and program goals. This is referred to as the building block approach. It begins with basic exercises that test specific elements and then gradually progresses to use exercises that take greater resources and time, and become more complex. Although each exercise type can be executed as a single activity, greater benefit can be achieved through a building block approach that exposes program participants to gradually increasing levels of complexity. For example, a series of exercises may begin with an executive-level seminar followed by a tabletop exercise (TTX) to address the strategic coordination of multiple organizations and levels of government. The TTX can then be followed by a series of drills to validate refined plans, and, finally, a full-scale exercise (FSE) that incorporates all levels of government and non-government organizations. It may also include the involvement of the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC).

The following three chapters will discuss the requirements of building an exercise program and how to plan and conduct specific exercises. The chapter “Building an Exercise” will provide an overview of how exercises are designed, developed, conducted, and evaluated. The chapters “Discussion-based Exercises” and “Operations-based Exercises” will provide guidelines for the design, development, conduct, evaluation, and follow-up of specific discussion-based and operations-based exercises, respectively.

Chapter 3: Building an Exercise


Exercise Phases

Exercises are developed in phases. The five major phases of an exercise are as follows:

1. Foundation

2. Exercise Design and Development

3. Exercise Conduct

4. Exercise Evaluation and Reporting

5. Corrective Action Plan/Improvement Plan

Phase One: Foundation

It is important to establish a foundation for designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating an exercise. In order to establish this foundation, it is essential to identify a planning team, schedule planning conferences, establish milestones and a project timeline, and determine the availability of resources to design and implement an exercise. Tools for effective project management include charts, timelines, secure Web-based portals, and checklists.

Exercise Coordinator

An exercise coordinator should be appointed to oversee the implementation and management of the exercise program and the exercise planning and development process.

Other responsibilities should include:

  • Reviewing risk, vulnerability, and needs assessments of each ministry, community, or organization
  • Preparing the exercise needs portion of the strategy
  • Preparing a schedule of major exercise activities and ensuring regular updates on changes to the plan/schedule
  • Coordinating the development and implementation of a multi-year exercise program for the approval of the respective emergency management committee
  • Supporting the planning, conduct, and evaluation of ministerial, community, and organizational exercises
  • Ensuring that After Action Reports (AARs) and Corrective Action Plans (CAPs)/Improvement Plans (IPs) are prepared
  • Establishing a mechanism for tracking Corrective Action Plan (CAP)/Improvement Plan (IP) implementation
  • Incorporating lessons learned, and prevention and response needs identified through exercises, into the strategy planning and evaluation process

Exercise Planning Team

The exercise planning team is responsible for assisting the Exercise Coordinator in developing exercise content and procedures, including exercise planning, conduct, and evaluation. The planning team determines exercise objectives, tailors the scenario to jurisdictional needs, and develops documents used in exercise simulation, control, and evaluation.

The exercise planning team is managed by a lead exercise planner and can most effectively be structured using the principles of the Incident Management System (IMS). The team’s project management principles should reflect IMS, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. For instance, the jurisdictions and responsibilities of key roles and sections, such as Exercise Director/Lead Exercise Planner, Safety Officer, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration should be incorporated into the structure.

Exercise Planning Conferences and Meetings

Conferences and meetings help lay the foundation for the type of exercise, the exercise scope and objectives, and the purpose of the exercise. The scope, type (operations-based or discussion-based), and complexity of an exercise should determine the number of meetings necessary to successfully conduct an exercise. Planning conferences should occur in the following chronological order: Concept and Objectives (C&O) Meeting, Initial Planning Conference (IPC), Mid-Term Planning Conference (MPC), and a Final Planning Conference (FPC). Details on these conferences and meetings can be found in Annex A.

Exercise Planning Timelines

Exercise planning timelines establish target timeframes for attaining significant, exercise-related milestones, such as planning conferences, training, exercise conduct, and after-action reporting. Timelines will vary based on exercise scope and complexity. For example, exercise planners generally employ longer timelines for tabletop exercises (TTXs) than for workshops and seminars, and longer timelines still for full-scale exercises (FSE). Timelines may also vary based on the experience that your organization may have in conducting exercises, the resources that are available, and the size of the planning team.

Resources

An important part of exercise planning is to determine what resources are available to design and implement an exercise. Therefore, it is important to address budget concerns in order to determine what the exercise will cost in terms of funding, human resources, and organizational liability.


Phase Two: Exercise Design and Development

The design and development process should focus on identifying objectives, developing the scenario and documentation, coordinating tasks and logistics, planning exercise conduct, and selecting evaluation and improvement methodology, thus building on the established foundation for the exercise.

Exercise Objectives

Exercise objectives define specific goals, provide a framework for scenario development, guide the development of individual organizational objectives, and provide exercise evaluation criteria. Generally, planners should limit the number of exercise objectives to facilitate design of a reasonable scenario, enable timely exercise execution, and adequately support successful completion of exercise goals. Objectives are initially prepared during concept development.

Scenario

A scenario provides the backdrop that drives exercise participant discussion. It should be hazard based, realistic, plausible, and challenging. However, designers should ensure that the scenario is not so challenging that it overwhelms participants.

The first step in designing the scenario is determining the type of hazard (e.g., natural, human caused, technological, or other). The next step is to determine the venue (facility or site) that the scenario will affect. Venue selection should be based on the type of hazard used.

Also, planners should identify the kinds of player activities and decision-making opportunities needed to meet exercise objectives, and ensure that they can take place within the scenario framework.

Exercise Development

Exercises are developed by following an eight-step process:

  1. Assess Needs

A needs assessment is a process of defining an organization’s inventory of problems or needs. It should begin with a review of your emergency program and plans, and should address:

  • Hazards and area(s) most vulnerable
  • Functions most in need of exercising
  • Potential participants
  • Exercise requirements and capabilities

A needs assessment involves three basic steps:

  1. Define the problems
  2. Establish the reason to conduct an exercise
  3. Identify the functions to be exercised
  4. Define the Scope

Defining the scope of an exercise means putting realistic limits on the issues that have been identified in the needs assessment. There are five categories that make up the scope: hazards, geographic area, functions, organizations and personnel, and exercise type.

  1. Write a Statement of Purpose

The purpose statement is a broad statement of the exercise goal. It focuses and controls the whole exercise. The purpose statement governs the selection of the objectives, clarifies for the chief executive and participants why the exercise is being conducted, and is useful in communicating plans to the media and organization leaders.

  1. Define the Objectives

An objective is a description of the performance you expect from participants to demonstrate competence. Objectives can be classified into “general objectives” or “functional or specific objectives.” General objectives provide an overall exercise objective of the organization, while functional or specific objectives describe the expected outcomes of the emergency management functions being tested.

Level of Play Matrix

Upon reviewing the exercise scope and objectives, organizations may wish to participate in an exercise but later realize that they are unable to make a full commitment. A Level of Play Matrix allows organizations to agree early on in the exercise planning process to a specified level of play. Below is an example of what a Level of Play Matrix may look like:

Level of Play Matrix
Level of Play
Description
Availability
1
Full organizational participation
24/7
2
Full headquarters or EOC participation
24/7
3
Response cell participation
24/7
4
Partial response cell participation
a) Normal work hours (xx am to xx pm)
b) Normal work days (Mon-Fri)
5
Liaison only participation
 
6
Observer
 
7
Simulated
 
8
Subject matter expert (SME)
 

Level of Play Matrix

  1. Compose a Narrative

A narrative is a brief description of the events that have occurred up to the minute the exercise begins. The narrative sets the mood for the exercise and for later action by providing information that the participants will need during the exercise.

  1. Write Major and Detailed Events

Major and detailed events are occurrences that take place after and as a result of the emergency described in the narrative. The goal in developing these events is to provide a structure that will link the simulated event(s) to the action(s) expected to be taken to provide unity to the exercise. Major events are big problems resulting from the emergency. They should be likely events based on case studies or operational plans that call for realistic action. Minor/detailed events are specific problem situations to which personnel must respond. Each detailed event should be designed to prompt one or more expected actions for one or more organizations that are participating in the exercise.

  1. List Expected Actions

Expected actions are the actions or decisions that participants should carry out in order to demonstrate competence. Actions in the script should follow the emergency management plan, including Emergency Operating Procedures (EOP) and/or Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Emergency Operating Procedures refer to a document that describes how people and property will be protected during a threat or actual emergency. They detail roles and responsibilities for carrying out specific actions, identify the resources available for use in the emergency, and outline how all the actions will be coordinated. Standard Operating Procedures refers to a set of instructions constituting a directive, covering those features of operations that lend themselves to a definite step-by-step process of accomplishment.

It is necessary to identify expected actions in order to write effective messages and to determine what should be evaluated. This may require advance consultations with some or all of the anticipated exercise participants, particularly if the exercise designer(s) is/are not familiar with the SOPs of responding agencies.

Expected actions include verifying, considering, deferring, and decision-making.

  1. Prepare Messages


Messages support and compliment the exercise narrative and are crafted with the exercise objectives in mind. They are designed to prompt decision-making and actions that are in accordance with responsibilities detailed in existing emergency plans and procedures.

There are two kinds of messages: pre-scripted (developed prior to the exercise) and spontaneous (developed when players react in a manner that is different from the expected outcome). Spontaneous messages can also be referred to as “free play,” entered into the exercise by the controller or simulator to induce, create, or steer players to react.

Messages can be transmitted in various ways, including:

  • Telephone/cellular phone
  • E-mail
  • Radio
  • Written note
  • In person
  • Fax
  • E-mail

When transmitting messages in functional or full-scale exercises, try to use the method of transmission that would most likely occur in an actual emergency.

TIP: All messages should “begin” with and “end” with ‘EXERCISE, EXERCISE’ or ‘THIS IS AN EXERCISE MESSAGE’. This will ensure that the recipient is aware that the message is exercise related and not part of a real emergency.

Documentation

Documents that may be used to help guide those involved in an exercise include a Situation Manual (SITMAN), an Exercise Plan (EXPLAN), a Player Handbook, a Controller and Evaluator (C/E) Handbook, a Master Scenario Events List (MSEL), Exercise Evaluation Guides (EEGs), an Exercise Evaluation Plan (EVALPLAN), and a Final Exercise Report. For details on these exercise documents, see Annex B.

Policies

Exercise policies are developed to provide guidance or parameters of acceptable practices for designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating exercises. They are designed to prevent or mitigate unwanted consequences, such as injury to participants and destruction of property. Policies appropriate to the type of exercise that address issues such as safety, media, cancellation, and weather should be developed.

Phase Three: Exercise Conduct

The third phase involves conducting the exercise, which includes setup, briefings, and facilitation/control/evaluation, and wrap-up activities.

Setup

Setup involves the planning team visiting the exercise site on the day prior to the event for any remaining logistical and administrative set up and to arrange for registration.

Exercise Control Centre/Cell

The need for an exercise control centre/cell should be considered by the exercise planning team. A control centre/cell is often needed only for operational or functional exercises. It should be located in a suitable building close to the exercise site, where it can be used as an assembly point for briefings and where victims or casualties, if to be simulated, can be prepared.

Exercise Health and Safety

As with most activities, there are many potential safety issues that could possibly occur during an exercise. All participants should be made aware of any hazards within the area and reminded of safety issues. Also, a safety officer should be designated to analyze the entire exercise from a safety perspective.

First aid/ambulance coverage should be provided to address health problems and injuries sustained during an exercise. Personal care support, such as providing refreshments, changing areas, and washroom facilities, is also an important consideration.

Identification of Participants

Exercise participants and those who are not actively participating in the exercise should be easily distinguishable. It is important to be able to identify which organization each person represents. It is also important to be able to distinguish between real media and media that is part of the simulation.

Public Information

The exercise planning team should consider giving prior information to the public in the surrounding areas of the exercise. It is important to make sure that the public does not think that any operations or functional exercise is a real event.

Emergency Call-Off

In some instances, it may be necessary to stop an exercise in order to address a real emergency. Every exercise should have a planned call-off procedure that results in the prompt return of personnel and equipment to full duty status. The procedure should include a code word or phrase (e.g.: NO DUFF) that the controller or safety officer can use to indicate that:

  • The exercise has been terminated
  • Personnel should report to their regular duty positions
  • All radio traffic will return to normal

These emergency call-off procedures should be determined and communicated to all staff.

Briefings

Briefings are important tools for delivering information. A discussion-based exercise generally includes a multi-media presentation to present the scenario and accompany the Situation Manual (SITMAN). An operations-based exercise may include briefings for controllers and/or evaluators, hospitals, actors, players, and observers/media. A briefing is an opportune time to distribute exercise documentation, provide necessary instructions and administrative information, and answer any outstanding questions.


Media

Every opportunity should be taken to practice the media plan for an exercise. Exercise press conferences can test media skills and information management.

Debriefing/Hot-Wash

Holding an informal debrief, also known as a hot-wash, immediately after an exercise is a good way to capture participants’ instant reactions. A hot-wash occurs immediately following an operations-based exercise and allows players the opportunity to provide immediate feedback. It enables controllers and evaluators to capture events while they remain fresh in the minds of the players to determine their level of satisfaction with the exercise, and determine any issues or concerns and proposed improvements. Each functional area should conduct a hot-wash facilitated by its lead controller.

Facilitation, Control, and Evaluation

In both discussion-based and operations-based exercises, facilitators and controllers guide exercise play. During a discussion-based exercise, the facilitator is responsible for keeping participant discussions on track with the exercise design objectives, and making sure all issues and objectives are explored as thoroughly as possible despite operating under time constraints.

In an operations-based exercise, controllers plan and manage exercise play, set up and operate the exercise incident site, and possibly take the roles of response individuals and organizations not actually participating in the exercise.

Phase Four: Exercise Evaluation and Reporting

Evaluation is the cornerstone of an exercise, as it documents strengths and opportunities for improvement in an emergency management program, and is the first step in the improvement process. Exercise evaluation is the process of observing and recording exercise activities, comparing the performance of the participants against the exercise objectives, and identifying strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation process for all exercises includes a formal exercise evaluation, integrated analysis, identification of improvements and corrective actions, an After Action Conference, and an After Action Report (AAR).

There are seven steps in the evaluation process:

  1. Plan and organize the evaluation
  2. Observe the exercise and collect data
  3. Analyze data
  4. Identify improvements and corrective actions that need to be implemented
  5. Develop the draft AAR based on input from key personnel
  6. Conduct an After Action Conference to debrief the draft AAR
  7. Finalize the AAR

Exercise Debriefing

A formal exercise debriefing for facilitators, controllers and/or evaluators, and a hot-wash for players should occur following both discussion-based and operations-based exercises. Debriefing provides an opportunity to evaluate efficiency, learn from the experience gained, and determine how well the emergency management process went. The Lead Exercise Planner or the Exercise Director should facilitate the debriefing and the results should be included in the AAR.

Evaluation Team

The evaluation team consists of evaluators that are trained to observe and record participant action. They should be familiar with the exercising jurisdiction’s plans, policies, procedures, and agreements. The number of evaluators may vary depending on the scope and size of the exercise. Some of the responsibilities of the evaluation team include:

  • Participating in the exercise design team
  • Determine an appropriate evaluation strategy
  • Develop and communicate the exercise evaluation plan
  • Establish a communications system for evaluators
  • Design and develop the evaluation organization and chain of command
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of the evaluation team
  • Develop policies, guidelines, and procedures for implementing the evaluation plan
  • Develop administrative and logistic systems for reporting observations, problem resolution, and safety and site preparation

After Action Report (AAR)

The After Action Report (AAR) is used to provide feedback to participating organizations on their performance during the exercise. It summarizes what happened, analyzes performance of the tasks identified, and reveals the demonstrated capacity to accomplish the overall exercise goal. The AAR includes recommendations for improvements to the emergency management program based on the analysis, which will be addressed in the Improvement Plan (IP).

An AAR should be prepared for each TTX, drill, functional exercise (FE), and Full Scale Exercise (FSE) conducted under the multi-year exercise program. A summary report should be produced for workshops and seminars.

To prepare the report, the exercise evaluation team should analyze data collected from the hot-wash and/or debrief, participant feedback forms, and other sources (e.g. plans and procedures) and compare the actual results with the intended outcome. The AAR should describe the exercise scenario, player activities, preliminary observations, major issues, and recommendations for improvement.

After Action Conference

The After Action Conference should be conducted after the draft AAR has been developed and comments from key personnel have been incorporated. The After Action Conference is typically a half-day workshop in which key personnel and the exercise planning team are presented with findings and recommendations from the AAR. Once these recommendations are agreed upon, the draft AAR is finalized.

Phase Five: Improvement Planning

Improvement planning requires follow-up activities that include a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) and an Improvement Plan (IP). A CAP identifies program shortfalls and the necessary corrective actions required to address them. It is the means by which the lessons learned from the exercise are converted into concrete, measurable steps that result in improved response capabilities. An IP builds on the AAR by identifying the corrective actions to be taken, the responsible party or agency, and the expected completion date. It is included at the end of the AAR.

Process

The Corrective Action Plan and the Improvement Plan begin following the “after action” discussion/critique of the incident or exercise. During the evaluation process, deficiencies that require improvement are noted.

Task Groups

A task group is assigned to each identified area of noted deficiency to develop the necessary actions for improvement, and a time schedule for the development of the necessary corrective action is established. The task group should do the following:

  • Develop options for appropriate corrective action
  • Make recommendations for a preferred option
  • Develop an implementation plan, which should include training
  • Ensure that during the next exercise, the corrective action/improvement plan be evaluated to determine if the corrective actions have been successful

Components

The eight components in the Corrective Action Plan/Improvement Plan are as follows:

  1. Develop a problem statement that states the problem and identifies its impact
  2. Review the past history of corrective action issues from previous evaluations and identify possible solutions to the problem
  3. Select a corrective action strategy and prioritize the actions to be taken
  4. Provide authority and resources to the individual assigned to implementation so that the designated change can be accomplished
  5. Identify the resources required to implement the strategy
  6. Check on the progress of completing the corrective action
  7. Forward problems that need to be resolved by higher authorities to the level of authority that can resolve the problem
  8. Test the solution through exercising once the problem is solved

Improvement Tracking and Planning

Once recommendations and action items have been identified and responsibilities and due dates have been assigned in the Corrective Action Plan (CAP)/Improvement Plan (IP), the organization should ensure that each action item is tracked to completion. Exercise evaluation feedback and corrective actions should be reviewed to assess progress on enhancing prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, and incorporate the information into the planning process.

Chapter 4: Discussion-based Exercises

Discussion-based exercises familiarize participants with current plans, policies, agreements, and procedures, and are normally the starting point in the building block approach to an exercise program. They include seminars, workshops, tabletop exercises (TTXs), and games. They are important tools for familiarizing organizations and personnel with current or expected jurisdictional capabilities. They may also provide a forum for developing new plans and procedures. Facilitators and/or presenters lead the discussions and focus on meeting the exercise objectives.

Specific Discussion-based Exercise Types

Seminars

Seminars generally orient participants to authorities, strategies, plans, policies, procedures, protocols, resources, concepts, and ideas. They also provide a good starting point for jurisdictions that are developing or making major changes to existing plans or procedures. Seminars are also useful when attempting to gain awareness of, or assess, the capabilities of interagency or inter-jurisdictional operations.

Seminars can be used to deliver a wide range of topics. Although their topics may be diverse, all seminars share the following common attributes:

  • They are less expensive to run
  • They are conducted in a low-stress environment
  • Information is conveyed through different instructional techniques, such as lectures, multimedia presentations, panel discussions, and case studies
  • They are informal and led by a seminar leader
  • There are no real-time “clock” constraints
  • They can be effective with both small and large groups

Seminars are typically conducted in a lecture-based format with limited feedback or interaction from participants. They do not typically require a formal comprehensive AAR; however, a seminar report should be developed to capture the discussions, issues raised, and, if appropriate, action items that will address these issues.

Workshops

Although similar to seminars, workshops differ in two important aspects: participant interaction is increased and the focus is on achieving or building a product (e.g., plans and policies). To be effective, workshops should be focused on a specific issue, and the desired outcome (product) or goal must be clearly defined.

Workshops share the same attributes as seminars, as well as the following additional ones:

  • No-fault forum
  • Facilitated, working breakout sessions
  • Plenum discussions led by a workshop leader
  • Goal-oriented discussion with an identifiable product in mind

For workshops, it is best to reserve one large room in which all participants can see a screen and see all other participants. For breakout sessions, individual rooms (such as classrooms) are ideal.

Tabletop Exercises

Tabletop exercises (TTXs) typically involve discussion by key staff, decision makers, and elected and appointed officials. This type of exercise is generally held in an informal setting intended to generate discussion of various issues regarding a hypothetical, simulated event. They can be used to enhance general awareness, validate plans and procedures, and/or assess the types of systems needed to guide prevention, response, and recovery from a defined event. These exercises are aimed at facilitating an understanding of concepts, identifying strengths and shortfalls, and/or achieving a change in attitude. Participants are encouraged to discuss issues in depth and are provided with opportunities to develop decisions through slow-paced problem solving rather than the rapid, spontaneous decision-making that occurs under actual emergency conditions.

Tabletop methodologies are divided into basic and advanced categories. In a basic TTX, the scene set by the scenario materials remains constant. This scene describes an event or emergency incident and takes participants through the phases to the simulated present.

In an advanced TTX, play advances through delivery of pre-scripted messages. The Exercise Controller, acting as a moderator, introduces problems one at a time in the form of a written message, simulated telephone call, videotape, or other means. Participants then discuss the issues raised by each problem, using appropriate plans and procedures. Player decisions are incorporated as the scenario continues to unfold.

Tabletop exercises require a room where all participants can view a screen and where participants at individual tables can discuss issues without disruption. Because of this requirement, it is ideal to reserve one large room and several smaller rooms (similar to workshop breakout rooms).

Games

Games are simulations of operations that often involve two or more teams, usually in a competitive environment, using rules, data, and procedures that depict an actual or assumed real-life situation. They have specific rules and use controllers to enforce its parameters. This type of exercise explores the outcomes of player responses, and can be used to help participants understand the possible consequences of their actions. Thus, games are an important tool that can be used to explore the way decisions are made, and the consequences of those decisions. They also help responders realize the consequences of their actions and consider appropriate behavior or behavioral guidelines for the future. Decision-making may be either slow and considered or rapid and more challenging, depending on exercise design and objectives.

Games are excellent for:

  • Gaining policy or process consensus
  • Conducting “what-if” analyses of existing plans
  • Developing new plans

In a game, the controller’s role is to process the information that is received.

Another major variable in games is whether the outcomes of player actions are scripted or random. The controller, guided by the rules, determines the outcomes produced by player actions. Therefore, time must be allotted for the rules of the game to be thoroughly tested prior to game play. If either the critical decision making opportunities or the rules are deficient, then objectives will not be properly tested.

The exercise planning team begins the game. How many players participate in a game depends on game objectives, design, and concepts. Due to the limited number of participants, planners are encouraged to open the exercise to observers (if feasible). Observers are asked not to participate in discussions and strategy sessions, but can be tasked to make notes and report back to controllers with feedback.

Controllers should be aware of pre-established rules and procedures, and they should play an ongoing evaluator role. The game may have one or more controllers depending on the number of teams.

All controllers and evaluators make and compile notes relevant to their team’s actions. Immediately after the game, a short hot-wash should be conducted with the exercise planning team to determine the level of satisfaction with the exercise, issues or concerns, and proposed improvements. In addition, participants can provide immediate feedback and capture events as they occur. The planning team should collect game attendance lists and capture notes from the hot-wash for inclusion in the AAR.

Exercise Planning Team

The exercise planning team for discussion-based exercises is typically smaller than the team needed for operations-based exercises. Because of this smaller size, members should be willing to accept additional responsibilities not necessarily associated with their assigned group.

Planning Conferences

Discussion-based exercises typically require a minimum of two planning conferences. These conferences are used to design and finalize exercise documentation. Depending on their scope, seminars and workshops may require only one conference. The Concept and Objectives (C&O) Meeting, used to identify broad issues and provide general direction, is usually part of the Initial Planning Conference (IPC) for discussion-based exercises. The vast majority of issues should be identified and assigned at the IPC. The Final Planning Conference (FPC) should be used to review previously developed/completed items.

TIP: Exercise designers should be particularly cognizant of any sensitivities addressed in scenarios, such as actual names associated with known terrorist groups or selected venues (e.g., school name, private company names). If possible do not use the real names of any group, organization or landmark in order to avoid any civil action.

Project Management Timeline

The Lead Exercise Planner (LEP) selects a date for the IPC, which marks the beginning of the exercise planning timeline. During and after the IPC, exercise plans, documents, and logistics are discussed and finalized, based on the type of exercise selected. Once a timeline has been established, the planning team should follow it. All planning team members should have input into timeline development and access to the final timeline once it is completed.

Design and Development

Exercise Objectives

Objectives for a discussion-based exercise typically focus on strategic, policy-oriented issues, such as existing plans, policies, mutual aid agreements, and procedures.

Scenario

The first step in designing a scenario is determining the type of hazard on which the exercise will focus. Each type of hazard has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to evaluating different aspects of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. The exercise planning team should choose a hazard that fits the exercise objectives. Hazard selection should be based on your risk assessment profile.

Venue

The venue is the facility or site where the scenario will take place. Venue selection should be based on the identified hazard. When appropriate, the selected venue described in the scenario should be based on a jurisdiction’s hazard identification and risk assessment.

Documentation

Situation Manual

For discussion-based exercises, the Situation Manual (SITMAN) may include the following information:

  • Introduction
  • Schedule of events
  • Purpose and scope
  • Design objectives
  • Exercise structure (e.g., modules)
  • Instructions for exercise conduct
  • Roles and responsibilities for facilitators, participants, and observers
  • Assumptions and artificialities
  • Exercise rules
  • Local information (e.g., local agency names, pictures of response apparatus)
  • Scenario
  • Issues for consideration (key questions to be discussed during the exercise)
  • Reference appendices

TIP: To discourage participants from reading ahead in the SITMAN scenario during the exercise, a sticker can be placed over each module so the pages can’t be turned until the facilitator directs the participants to unseal the module.

When developing the SITMAN, the following items should be considered and addressed:

  • Realistic response times
  • Proper agency or organization names
  • Proper lines of communication (e.g., notification procedures)
  • Existing organizational capabilities (e.g., equipment, apparatus)

Multimedia Presentation

The multimedia presentation for a discussion-based exercise should summarize and support (both visually and with audio) information contained in the written documentation. Participants should be able to read the written material while watching or listening to the presentation.

This presentation typically contains the following information:

  • Introduction
  • Background on the hazard or scenario
  • Objectives
  • Exercise play rules
  • Modules that describe the scenario

TIP: To add realism to the scenario and supporting presentation, record actual sound bites by people who would normally be speaking during a real incident (e.g., mayor or governor, 911 dispatchers, first responders).

Audio/visual (A/V) enhancements to a presentation may include video or sound systems that convey information to exercise participants.

Exercise Evaluation Guides

Exercise Evaluation Guides (EEGs) are used to help with exercise evaluation and should incorporate the critical tasks to be completed during an exercise. Each EEG provides evaluators with information on what they should expect to hear discussed, space to record their observations, and questions to consider after the exercise (as the first step in the analysis process). During the analysis phase, evaluators combine their observations with those of the other evaluators.

Exercise evaluations guides that may be used for a discussion-based exercise include a debrief/hot-wash, an After Action Report (AAR), and Improvement Plan (IP), and a Corrective Action Plan (CAP).

Media

Media Policy

If required, local media should be notified about any exercise prior to its taking place. It is also recommended to notify the public that an exercise is taking place so that what is an operations-based exercise is not confused with a real event.

It is up to the jurisdiction whether to invite the media to an exercise. If invited, the media should have an opportunity prior to the exercise to conduct interviews with key planners and participants. At discussion-based exercises, the media should not be present during the discussion of standard operating procedures, emergency operating procedures, or any other potentially sensitive information. If the media would like video footage of exercise proceedings and participants, they may be allowed to film from the back of the room until scenario discussions begin. This allows participants to speak freely and openly during the exercise without outside distractions or intimidation.

Written Release

Prior to an exercise, the planning team should develop a written press release to be disseminated to media outlets. This release serves as a means of informing the media and the public about general exercise information (e.g., location, date). Additionally, this information can be distributed to observers and senior officials. This release should not contain detailed scenario information and should not contain information that might hinder exercise outcomes if a participant were to see it.

Typically, the contents of a media/public information release for the exercise can include:

  • Introduction:
  1. Sponsoring agency
  2. Program information
  3. Expected outcomes
  • Purpose
  • Scope and duration
  • General scenario information (e.g., location, goals, objectives)
  • Participating organizations

Logistics

Logistical issues should be addressed prior to an exercise. Below are some of the issues that may need to be considered.

Logistics and Administration

The planning team should visit the exercise site on the day prior to the event to address any remaining logistical or administrative items pertaining to setup, and to arrange for registration.

Prior to exercise conduct, the planning team should provide necessary exercise materials, such as:

  • Adequate number of SITMANs or other written materials for exercise participants
  • Multimedia presentation
  • Appropriate A/V equipment including televisions, projectors, projection screens, microphones, and speakers
  • Table tents for each table
  • Name tents for each participant
  • Badges identifying the role of each exercise participant (e.g., participant, observer, VIP, facilitator, evaluator)
  • Sign-in sheets
  • Feedback forms

Facility/Room

Meetings and briefings should be conducted in facilities that are appropriate for the scope and size of the exercise. The facility should be large enough to accommodate all participants, observers, facilitators, and presenters. Table arrangement varies according to exercise type. For a TTX, for instance, the number of tables should be based on the number of participating functional areas. The layout should allow for as much participant and facilitator interaction as possible.

TIP: Conference rooms are the most ideal facilities for discussion-based exercises.

Food/Refreshments

Food and refreshments should be provided to participants and observers, especially during prolonged exercises.

Audio/Visual Requirements

A/V requirements should be identified well in advance and specific responsibilities should be assigned to ensure proper equipment functioning.

Supplies

Exercise planners should consider the importance of supplies (eg., writing utensils and notepads) deemed necessary for the exercise. These supplies should be procured prior to exercise conduct and provided to all participants.

Badges/Name Tents/Table Tents

Each exercise participant should have a badge clearly identifying him/her by name and agency. Name tents should be placed on tables prior to the start of the exercise to ensure proper seating arrangements. Additionally, each table should have a table tent identifying the functional area represented (e.g., public health, emergency management).

TIP: To reduce costs associated with an exercise, the planning team can consider producing badges and table tents that can be reused for future exercises.

Registration and Table/Breakout Identification

For both identification and security reasons, participants and observers should register upon arrival and provide their name, organization, phone/fax number, and e-mail address. Also, table assignments should be predetermined. The planning team should retain copies of the sign-in sheets so that participants may receive follow-up correspondence.

Presentation

Presentations may be conducted by facilitators to convey important exercise-related information to participants. During this time, attendees should be introduced to lead facilitators and evaluators, given background on the exercise process, and advised about their individual roles and responsibilities.

Facilitated Discussion

Facilitated group discussions occur at individual tables and are ideally facilitated by someone with functional area expertise. The facilitator is responsible for keeping the discussion on track with exercise objectives and making sure all issues are explored (time permitting). Also, to allow the facilitator to focus on key discussion issues, a recorder may be designated to take notes.

Facilitated discussions take place before moderated discussions.

TIP: Planning team members often make excellent facilitators because they are intimately familiar with the objectives and scenario.

Moderated Discussion

In moderated discussions, a representative from each table summarizes and presents results from a group’s facilitated discussion to all the participants.

Debrief/Hot-wash

All facilitators should take and compile notes relevant to their group’s facilitated and moderated discussions. This information will be used to generate the AAR and/or exercise notes. In addition, participants and observers should receive feedback forms before the end of the exercise that ask for input regarding their impressions.

Immediately after the exercise, a short debrief or hot-wash should be conducted with exercise planning team members to ascertain their level of satisfaction, discuss any issues or concerns, and propose improvements.

During a debrief/hot-wash, logistical issues should be of particular importance so that future exercises can avoid the same problems.

Evaluation

Complex exercises may require the development of an Evaluation Plan (EVALPLAN). The concept of evaluation should be addressed during exercise planning conferences. The following items should be determined:

  • Means of evaluation
  • Number of evaluators
  • Conduct of exercise debrief
  • formal evaluation and improvement process includes the 7 steps discussed in Phase 4: Exercise Evaluation and Reporting (see page 25).

After Action Conference

A lead facilitator should review the draft AAR and ask participants to identify action items that will address the issues and recommendations. Once these action items have been identified, the draft AAR should be finalized, and responsibility should be assigned to an individual, an agency, or an organization. Due dates should also be established.

After Action Report

It is recommended that a draft After Action Report (AAR) be completed within one month of exercise completion. To allow officials sufficient time to review the draft, the exercise planning team should have a draft completed within 3 weeks. An AAR letter of transmittal should inform the Lead Exercise Planner or an official representative that the review period should not exceed 3 weeks. Once the Lead Exercise Planner has concurred with changes made by the exercise planning team, the AAR is approved for publication. This process may be different depending on an organization’s procedures.

Seminar and workshop reports should, at a minimum, contain the following information:

  • Rationale (e.g., purpose, goals, objectives)
  • Description (e.g., content, structure, venue)
  • Outcome discussion (e.g., key issues raised, status of achieving objectives, feedback from participants)
  • Next steps (e.g., action items, follow up activities)

Corrective Action Plan

The Corrective Action Plan (CAP) specifically details the actions that a jurisdiction will take to address each recommendation presented in the draft AAR, who or what agency will be responsible for taking that action, and the timeline for completion. Responsibilities for an initial CAP should be assigned at the exercise debrief. The final CAP is included in the final AAR.

The CAP should be realistic in its establishment of priorities. Recommendations related to critical issues should be given top priority. In the case of discussion-based exercises, it is possible that the CAP will identify a need for additional exercises, possibly operations-based exercises.

Lessons Learned Information Sharing System

The recommendations contained within the AAR & CAP should be based on the lessons learned and best practices, which can then be captured and shared with other ministries, communities, and organizations to enhance preparedness across the province.

Improvement Planning

Because discussion-based exercises are the building blocks for future exercises, special attention should be paid to post-exercise activities and CAP content.

Tracking Implementation

Once the CAP has identified recommendations and action items, and responsibility and due dates have been assigned, the jurisdiction(s) should ensure that each action item is tracked to completion and that the improvements are implemented.

Chapter 5: Operations-based Exercises

Operations-based exercises represent the next stage in the building block approach and include drills, functional exercises (FEs), and full-scale exercises (FSEs). These types of exercises are used to validate the plans, policies, agreements, and procedures solidified in discussion-based exercises. Operations-based exercises can clarify roles and responsibilities, identify gaps in resources needed to implement plans and procedures, and improve individual and team performances. Common characteristics include actual response, mobilization of apparatus and resources, and commitment of personnel, usually over an extended period of time. These exercises may involve single or multiple organizations or jurisdictions.

Specific Operations-based Exercise Types

Drills

A drill is a coordinated, supervised activity usually employed to test a specific operation or function in a single agency or organization. Drills are commonly used to provide training on new equipment, develop or test new policies or procedures, or practice and maintain current skills. Drills are narrow in scope and typically focus on a specific aspect of an operation. Drills can be used to determine if plans can be executed as designed, to assess whether more training is required, or to reinforce best practices.

Typical attributes of drills include:

  • A narrow focus measured against established standards
  • Instant feedback
  • A realistic environment for testing
  • Performance in isolation from other tasks
  • Preparation for exercises that are larger in scope (i.e., full-scale exercises)

For every drill, clearly defined plans, policies, and procedures need to be in place. Personnel need to be familiar with those plans and policies, and to be trained in the processes and procedures to be drilled. During the event, participants must know that they are participating in a drill and not an actual event.

Controllers should ensure that participant behaviour remains within predefined boundaries and that those entities not involved in the drill (but that would be involved in an actual event) do not respond. Evaluators should observe behaviors and compare them against established plans, policies, procedures, and standard practices (if applicable). Furthermore, safety controllers should ensure all activity takes place within a safe environment.

Functional Exercises

Functional exercises (FEs) are single or multi-agency activities designed to test and evaluate, in a simulated real-time environment, agency capabilities, multiple functions or activities within a function, or interdependent groups of functions. They focus on exercising plans, policies, procedures, and staffs involved in management, direction, command, and control functions, such as Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) personnel, controllers and simulators, and evaluators. Events are projected through a scripted exercise scenario with built-in flexibility that allows updates to drive activity at the management level. Also, movement of personnel and equipment is simulated.

The objective of an FE is to exercise specific plans, policies, procedures, and the staff that may be involved in an organization’s Incident Management System (IMS). They help participants to simulate a response to a scenario, including decision-making skills, usually in a time-sensitive environment.

Typical FE attributes include:

  • Evaluation of functions
  • Evaluation of EOC, command posts, headquarters, and staff
  • Reinforcement of established policies and procedures
  • Measurement of adequacy, use, and acquisition of resources
  • Examination of inter-jurisdictional
    relationships
  • Use of a Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) as the primary tool that drives exercise play

To create an effective environment, the exercise planning team should represent the real world with respect to potential areas of play. Agency and player actions should be anticipated, and information resources should be identified and assembled. As with other types of operations-based exercises, the exercise planning team should ensure that entities not involved with the exercise, but who would be involved in a real event, do not respond.

Briefing and training of controllers and evaluators should be accomplished prior to the exercise date. This briefing and training should be long enough to allow for questions and a visit to the exercise site. Controllers and evaluators should be able to meet and determine where they will be located during the exercise. Controllers should be briefed on their responsibilities and the rules of engagement, and evaluators should become familiar with exercise objectives, exercise forms, and the reporting process. Controllers and evaluators should find positions for themselves where they can observe actions but avoid impeding exercise play.

Except in the event of adverse weather conditions, thorough planning should allow an exercise to begin on time. Security should be in place at least 2 hours before the exercise starts. Controllers, evaluators, observers, and media should be in place sufficiently early to allow the exercise to start on time. Observers and media should remain in their assigned areas throughout the exercise (unless escorted by an official). Emergency Information Officers (EIOs) should be available to interpret actions and/or provide briefings to observers and media, as appropriate. During the FE, participants must know that they are participating in an exercise, not an actual incident.

Functional exercise controllers should use a Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) to ensure participant behavior remains within predefined boundaries. Controllers in the simulation cell (SIMCELL) inject scenario elements to simulate real events, while evaluators observe behaviors and compare them against established plans, policies, procedures, and standard practices (if applicable), as well as against the timeline set forth in the MSEL. Furthermore, safety controllers ensure all activity takes place within a safe environment.

Although the exercise may have a time limit, it is best if the end of the exercise occurs after exercise objectives have been met and all required functions are completed to the satisfaction of the Exercise Director and/or the exercise planning team.

Full-Scale Exercises

Full-scale exercises (FSEs) are typically the most complex and resource intensive type of exercise. These multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional exercises test many facets of emergency response and recovery. They include many responders operating under one or more incident management systems to effectively and efficiently respond to, and initiate recovery from an incident. An FSE focuses on implementing and analyzing the plans, policies, and procedures developed in discussion-based exercises and tested in previous, smaller, operations-based exercises. Events are projected through a scripted exercise scenario that has built-in flexibility to allow updates to drive activity. The FSE is conducted in a real-time and closely mirrors a real event. Responders and resources are mobilized and deployed to the scene where they conduct their actions as if a real incident had occurred (with minor exceptions). Typical FSE attributes include:

  • Mobilization of units, personnel, and equipment
  • Use of established policies and procedures (as they pertain to the scenario)
  • Measurement of adequacy, appropriation, and acquisition of resources
  • Examination of inter-jurisdictional relationships
  • Performance analysis

The level of support needed to conduct an FSE is greater than that needed for other types of exercises. The exercise site for an FSE is usually vast, and site logistics require close monitoring. Safety issues, including those surrounding the use of props and special effects, must be monitored. Throughout the duration of the exercise, many activities occur simultaneously.

Controllers and evaluators should meet together prior to the exercise (possibly during the C/E briefing) to determine their locations during the exercise. Controllers should be briefed on their responsibilities, rules of exercise play, and use of the MSEL or other tools. Evaluators should be familiar with exercise objectives, forms, and the reporting process. Controllers and evaluators should find positions for themselves where they can observe exercise activity but be as unobtrusive as possible.

Except in the event of adverse weather conditions, thorough planning should allow an exercise to begin on time. Security should be in place at least 2 hours before the start. Controllers, evaluators, observers, and media should be in place sufficiently early to allow the exercise to start on time. Observers and media should remain in their assigned areas throughout the exercise (unless escorted by an official). An Emergency Information Officer (EIO) should be available to interpret actions and/or provide briefings to observers and media, as appropriate. During the FSE, participants must know that they are participating in an exercise, not an actual incident.

Controllers should ensure participant behavior takes place within predefined boundaries and that entities not involved in the exercise (but who would be involved in the actual event) do not respond. SIMCELL controllers are responsible for injecting scenario elements to simulate real events. Meanwhile, evaluators will observe behaviors and compare them against established plans, policies, procedures, and standard practices (if applicable). Safety controllers should ensure all activity takes place within a safe environment.

Although the exercise may have a time limit, it is best if the end of the exercise occurs after exercise objectives have been met and all required functions are completed to the satisfaction of the Exercise Director and/or the exercise planning team.

Exercise Planning Team

The exercise planning team for an operations-based exercise should include representatives from each participating agency or functional area as well as from all necessary logistical support areas. Because input is needed from all of these disciplines, the exercise planning team will likely be larger than the one needed for a discussion-based exercise. Planning team members need to be especially careful that tasks are properly assigned to one group or individual.

TIP: For large-scale, complex exercises, planning team members should consider the use of a secure, Web-based portal to exchange exercise documents, information, and ideas. This allows users to access documents, provide direct input, and share information while maintaining security.

Planning Conferences

Operations-based exercises are typically planned using a minimum of three conferences (Initial Planning Conference [IPC], Mid-Term Planning Conference [MPC], and Final Planning Conference [FPC]). Because a large amount of information is needed to organize an operations-based exercise, jurisdictions are encouraged to schedule as many as five conferences, including a Concept and Objectives (C&O) meeting and/or a Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) conference, as necessary.

Project Management Timeline

Operations-based exercises require a much more detailed and organized planning process than discussion-based exercises. A timeline that identifies key meeting dates, milestones, and critical tasks should be established by the exercise planning team no later than the conclusion of the IPC. Planners should follow the timeline exactly. Any changes should be justified to the Lead Exercise Planner, and the entire team should be notified to avoid any confusion.

Design and Development

Exercise Objectives

Objectives for an operations-based exercise typically focus on integration of multiple entities and systems-level and tactical-level issues.

TIP: Predetermining response routes from an assembly area will help reduce the possibility of accidents and liability issues. Directions and maps should be produced and disseminated to players and responders before the exercise.

Scenario

The scenario for an operations-based exercise should provide background information on the incident catalyst(s) of the exercise. Thought should be given to creating a scenario that potentially involves local incidents and facilities. Findings from a jurisdiction’s risk and vulnerability assessment could contribute to scenario development. If suitable, planning team members should also consider previous real-world incidents and existing plans that have been developed for popular local attractions or large venues.

TIP: Designers should be aware of any sensitivities surrounding scenarios by avoiding the use of actual names associated with known events and/or people, or with selected venues.

Hazard

The hazard of the exercise scenario should be based on exercise objectives. Additionally, in order to truly reflect the resiliency of your organization, it would be beneficial to base the exercise hazard in accordance with a Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (HIRA). It is also important to consider severity and probability when determining which hazard would be appropriate for the exercise.

Venue

Much like hazard selection, venue selection should be based on exercise objectives. The venue used to conduct the exercise does not necessarily have to be the same venue described in the exercise scenario.

In setting up an operations-based exercise planners should consider the assembly area, response route, response operations area, parking, registration, observer/media accommodations, and a possible Simulation Cell (SIMCELL) facility. Restrooms and water should be available to all participants, observers, and actors. All individuals permitted at the exercise site should wear some form of identification. Perimeter security and site safety during setup and conduct are essential.

Weather

For all exercises, especially those conducted outdoors, a decision should be made to use either real-world weather conditions at the time of the exercise or simulated weather conditions to prompt a certain chain of events. Wind direction and speed typically are simulated so that exercise play can be more easily restrained to one area and response agencies do not have to move their operations every time the wind changes directions, which is why most exercise planners use simulated or canned weather.

Date and Time

In all scenarios, the date and time affect exercise play. Many communities have different population demographics on weekdays, weekends, and holidays, and during special events. Populations and demographics tend to change with the time of day as well. These changes may affect participants’ expected actions and can be incorporated into the scenario.

TIP: Consider conducting an exercise on a weekend or during night hours to test off-hour resource levels and to minimize disruption to traffic and ongoing operations.

Documentation

Exercise Plan

Exercise Plans (EXPLANs) are published and distributed prior to the start of an exercise and provide a synopsis of the exercise. In addition to addressing exercise objectives and scope, EXPLANs assign tasks and responsibilities for successful exercise execution. The EXPLAN should not contain detailed scenario information such as the name of the hazard. An EXPLAN typically contains the following sections:

  • Purpose/scope/objectives
  • Background
  • Duration
  • Date and time of exercise
  • Exercise organization (e.g., director, controllers, evaluators, players)
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Rules of conduct
  • Safety issues
  • Logistics
  • Security and access
  • Communications
  • Schedule of events
  • Maps and directions

Controller and Evaluator Handbook

The Controller and Evaluator Handbook (C/E Handbook) supplements the EXPLAN and contains more detailed information about the exercise scenario. It also describes the roles and responsibilities of exercise controllers and evaluators. Because the C/E Handbook contains information about the scenario and about exercise administration, it should be distributed to only those individuals specifically designated as controllers or evaluators. In addition to containing the same information as the EXPLAN, the C/E Handbook usually contains the following sections:

  • Detailed scenario information
  • Roles and responsibilities of functional area(s) or individual controllers and evaluators
  • Exercise safety plan
  • Controller communications plan
  • Exercise Evaluation Guides (EEGs)

Evaluation Plan

An Evaluation Plan (EVALPLAN) provides evaluation staff with guidance and instructions on evaluation or observation methodology to be used as well as essential materials required to execute their specific functions. During larger, more complex exercises, planners may develop an EVALPLAN in lieu of, or in addition to, a C/E Handbook. The EVALPLAN is a limited distribution document that evaluators should use in conjunction with the EXPLAN and the MSEL. The level of detail may vary and can include the following:

  • Exercise overview
  • Evaluation control organization
  • Evaluation methodology and observation techniques
  • Evaluator roles and responsibilities
  • Evaluation communications plan

Control Staff Instructions

Control Staff Instructions (COSIN) documents contain guidance that controllers, simulators, and evaluators need concerning procedures and responsibilities for exercise control, simulation, and support. These instructions are developed for large-scale, complex exercises that require more coordination among control staff. The purpose of a COSIN is to:

  • Provide scenario details
  • Develop guidelines for control and simulation support
  • Explain the exercise concept as it relates to controllers and simulators
  • Establish management structure for these activities
  • Establish and define the control structure’s communication, logistics, and administration

Master Scenario Events List

A Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) contains a chronological listing of the events and injects that drive exercise play. The MSEL links simulation to action, enhances exercise experience for players, and reflects an incident or activity that will prompt players to implement the policy or procedure being tested. Each MSEL record contains:

  • Designated scenario time(s)
  • An event synopsis
  • Controller responsible for delivering inject, with controller/evaluator special instructions (if applicable)
  • Expected action(s) (ie. player response expected after an MSEL inject is delivered)
  • Intended player(s) of injects
  • Objective to be demonstrated (if applicable)
  • A notes section (for controllers and evaluators to track actual events against those listed in the MSEL, with special instructions for individual controllers and evaluators)

Times listed in an MSEL should reflect the time that an inject should occur. These times should be as realistic as possible and should be based on input from functional area representatives. If the activity occurs sooner than anticipated, the time should be noted but play should not be interrupted.

Message Injects

Message injects are typically used in exercises that involve multiple simulated activities. These messages are typically delivered via a SIMCELL and are used to simulate the actions, activities, and conversations of an individual, agency, or organization that is not participating in the exercise but that would likely be actively involved during a real event. For example, in an exercise with limited scope, a municipality may not be playing. To simulate the activities of the mayor’s office during an emergency event, a message can be scripted to simulate notification of the mayor by the Premier. That message can be delivered by phone through the SIMCELL. This script or message inject should be read by a simulator acting on behalf of the Mayor’s office.

TIP: When reading message injects, simulators should be as realistic as possible.

There are three types of message injects:

  • Contextual injects are introduced to a player by a controller to help build the contemporary operating environment.
  • Expected action events represent expected actions that would normally take place during this type of incident.
  • Contingency injects are events that should be verbally indicated to a player by a controller if they do not take place.

Master Scenario Events Lists are typically produced in two formats, short and long. Short MSELs list the inject, the time, a short description, the responsible controller, and a player. These can be used as a quick reference guide during exercise play. Long MSELs are used when greater detail is necessary; they include more detailed descriptions, exact quotes for SIMCELL injects, and descriptions of expected actions.

Procedural Flow

Procedural Flows (PROFLOW) outline a sequential flow of actions anticipated from participating organizations in response to a hypothetical situation. Typically, they are produced for national- and international-level exercises to describe the procedures of departments and organizations that may or may not be published elsewhere. The PROFLOW allows controllers and evaluators to track and monitor expected actions to ensure their completion at designated times. It differs from the MSEL in that it contains only expected player actions. The MSEL, on the other hand, is a comprehensive tool that contains expected actions and controller injects that prompt or initiate certain events.

Exercise Evaluation Guides

As is with discussion-based exercises, Exercise Evaluation Guides (EEGs) for operations-based exercises incorporate critical tasks that should be completed during an exercise. Examples of an EEG include a debrief/hot-wash, an After Action Report (AAR), an Improvement Plan (IP), and a Corrective Action Plan (CAP).

Controller and Evaluator Packets

Prior to an exercise, controllers and evaluators should receive all the materials that they will need to carry out their responsibilities. These materials can be extracted from the more detailed information found in the C/E Handbook or the COSIN.

A controller packet should contain:

  • Essential C/E Handbook or COSIN information
  • MSEL (including injects for each responsible controller)
  • Maps and directions

An evaluator packet should contain the same materials as a controller packet with the addition of Exercise Evaluation Guides. These materials should be placed in a packet (e.g. a folder or notebook) for ease of use during the exercise.

Exercise Site Areas

Response Route

The response route is the path traveled by responding emergency units to a simulated incident. This route should be clearly marked and free of traffic that is unrelated to the exercise. It should lead from the assembly area to the exercise site.

Response Area

The response area is a large space where operations take place (e.g., decontamination, triage, treatment, and weapons render safe area).

Parking

Established parking areas should be clearly labeled for use by observers, media (if to be present), actors, controllers, and evaluators.

Registration

No unauthorized personnel should be allowed into the site. All individuals associated with the exercise should register immediately upon arrival at the exercise site and receive a badge.

Assembly Area

The assembly area is the gathering place for deployable resources prior to the start of the exercise. Response units are dispatched from this area, thus all personnel, organizations, and resources that are playing and responding to the primary incident site (where the triggering event takes place) should report to the assembly area. All participants who are playing at offsite locations (e.g., hospitals, Emergency Operations Centres [EOCs]) should report to the areas designated by their respective organizations.

More than one assembly area may be established if the exercise involves multiple sites or events. In a real event, units would be dispatched from various locations and arrive at different times. However, in an exercise, the assembly area provides a safe location in close proximity to the exercise from which units can be sent directly to the site, allowing actual response times to be mimicked in a low-risk environment. The assembly area should not be confused with a staging area, which may be established by Incident Command (IC) to stage units before their arrival on the scene.

The onsite Assembly Area Controller should remain in close communication with other controllers throughout the exercise to ensure the safe and realistic dispatch of units. The Assembly Area Controller is responsible for the logistical organization of the assembly area, including placement locations for units and coordination of exiting patterns for dispatched units. Excellent organization of this area is critical to exercise success. It is important, therefore, for the planning team to create a deployment timetable based on realistic response times from a unit or agency’s home station or office.

The Assembly Area Controller should be informed about any updates to the exercise that may require changes to the deployment timetable. Should such changes be required, the Assembly Area Controller is responsible for updating the deployment timetable.

When a unit arrives at the assembly area, the controller should ensure all players are present. Units should be positioned according to their deployment times. In addition, all equipment should be checked by qualified individuals for operability to indicate that it is safe for exercise play.

Approximately 15 to 30 minutes before the start of exercise play, the Assembly Area Controller should conduct a briefing for all players to address individual roles and responsibilities, exercise parameters, safety, badges, and any remaining logistical exercise concerns or questions.

Measures should be in place to ensure the simulation of real-world response times. When dispatched, units should not leave the assembly area until directed to do so. Units should be released based on a realistic response time from their home station to the incident site. If units are not requested or deployed according to the deployment timetable, the Assembly Area Controller should notify and coordinate the deployments with the Exercise Director. Because personnel may be gathered in the assembly area for a significant amount of time prior to dispatch, it is important to have provisions, such as potable water and restrooms, available. Following the exercise, controllers should ensure that appropriate players attend the post-exercise hot-wash in their respective functional area.

Observer/Media Area

If observers and media are invited to an exercise, they should be directed to a designated area that provides them with a view of exercise play without interfering with exercise play. Confidential activities should take place some distance from the observer/media area.

Simulation

Simulation Cell

A Simulation Cell (SIMCELL) is used to generate injects and receive player responses to nonparticipating organizations. The SIMCELL also provides information in place of a nonparticipating agency.

Physically, the SIMCELL is a working location for a number of qualified professionals who portray nonparticipating organizations and individuals who would likely participate actively in response to an actual event. Depending on the type of exercise, the SIMCELL may require a phone; fax machine, computer, e-mail account, or other means of communication.

Actors

Volunteer victim actors are an important part of an operations-based exercise. They provide added realism and force participants to provide simulated victim care. Recruiting victim actors is one of the biggest challenges of any operations-based exercise. As soon as the planning team determines the total number of actors needed, team members should begin recruiting from local sources.

TIP: Drama students, police and fire academy recruits, nursing students, and military personnel often make excellent victim actors. Some victim actors can receive volunteer service credit for participating in an event that benefits responders and the entire organization.

Waiver Forms

Each victim actor should receive a waiver form prior to the day of the exercise. Signing this form waives liability for all exercise planners and participants. Jurisdictions should use discretion when recruiting actors under the age of 18 because of additional challenges and concerns related to liability, maturity, and emotional reactions. If the event requires volunteers younger than age 18, parents or legal guardians should sign their waiver forms.

Actor Instructions

Volunteers should receive their instructions prior to the day of the exercise. These instructions should tell volunteers about any special considerations, such as:

  • Wear old clothing
  • Eat prior to attending the exercise
  • Inform the victim actor coordinator about preexisting conditions

Victim actor instructions should also include information on when to arrive, where to report, and whether a meal will be provided during or after the exercise

TIP: Check with local used clothing distributors such as Canadian Diabetes Association or Salvation Army to see if they have any used clothing that they are not going to sell for use during the exercise.

Symptomology Cards

Each victim actor should be provided with a unique symptomology card containing the signs and symptoms the actor will portray, as well as information for medical providers. The victim actor coordinator or his/her staff should explain these cards to victim actors before the exercise and answer any questions. Victim actors should be instructed to keep these cards with them at all times during the exercise, and to not step out of character except in the event of a real emergency.

These cards should, at a minimum, include:

  • Vital signs (e.g., blood pressure, respiration)
  • Symptoms (e.g., dizziness, pain, nausea)
  • Trauma injuries (e.g., lacerations, wounds, broken legs)
  • Acting instructions (e.g., disorientation, emotional distress)
  • Special needs (e.g., language barriers, physical limitations)
  • Transportation

If victim actors are transported offsite, round trip transportation should be coordinated before the exercise starts. Victims should have transportation back to their vehicles at the conclusion of the exercise.

TIP: A great way to transport victim actors from the primary incident scene to offsite hospitals is to use a bus that could also simulate ambulance transport.

Hospital/Victim Breakdown

In exercises with hospital participation, which hospitals will receive victim actors should be determined prior to the exercise. This breakdown should include:

  • Total number of patients each hospital will receive, by severity
  • Number of actors that will be transported from the primary incident site to each hospital
  • Number of self-referring patients
  • Special considerations (e.g., pediatric/geriatric, language barriers)
  • Number of actors that will be pre-staged (generally self-referrals) at each hospital

This breakdown should be taken into consideration when making transportation arrangements.

Media/Public Information

Public Information/Press Release

Prior to each exercise, the planning team should develop a written release to be disseminated to media outlets. This release informs the media (and the public) about general exercise information. Prior to an operations-based exercise, it is particularly important to release information about exercise activities that may impact the public.

Prior to any operations-based exercise, announcements should be made to the public. This precaution will alleviate any confusion on the part of passing motorists or pedestrians. It will also help the public avoid congestion near the exercise site by providing suggestions for alternate routes. Announcements can be made on local television or radio, in local newspapers, through mass mailings or pamphlets, and/or on signs near the exercise site.

Additionally, this information can be distributed to observers and senior officials (e.g., VIPs, management). The document should not contain detailed scenario information, such as the hazard or venue, or any information that could hinder exercise outcome if read by a participant.

Typically, the contents of an exercise public information/press release should include:

  • Introduction:
  1. Sponsoring agency
  2. Program information
  3. Expected outcomes
  • Purpose
  • Scope and duration
  • General scenario (e.g., location, goals, objectives)
  • Participating organizations, grouped by locality and functional area

Media Policy

During operations-based exercises, media may be allowed to film certain activities but should be cautioned not to interfere with exercise play. Unless media is invited to participate in the exercise, a guide (typically an Emergency Information Officer [EIO] or designee) should escort media at all times.

Site Logistics

Badging/Identification

For security purposes, all exercise participants should wear some form of identification. Although players may wear their response uniforms, all other participants (e.g., controllers, evaluators, actors, observers/VIPs, and support staff) should be clearly identified. This identification is usually accomplished through a color-coded system of badges and hats. Badges and hats should be distributed before conducting the exercise, perhaps during registration or briefings. Players/responders should receive information about the forms of identification they will see at the exercise play area and what each color represents.

Restrooms

Restrooms should be available to all individuals involved in an exercise. Facilities should include portable and/or permanent restrooms at the assembly area and the exercise play area.

Food and Water

At a minimum, water should be available to all individuals present during exercise conduct. If an exercise exceeds 4 hours in length, a meal, usually a box lunch should be available to victim actors, participants, controllers, and evaluators. Victim actors should be instructed to eat prior to arriving at the exercise.

TIP: Local Canadian Red Cross and Salvation Army chapters are excellent sources of refreshments and other resources. However, this may entail a cost.

Communications

Prior to an exercise, a radio frequency or designated exercise channel should be identified for player/responder use. The selected frequency should not interfere with normal operations that are outside the scope of the exercise. All radio and/or telephone conversations with players, either at the primary incident site or at an off-site location, should begin with the phrase, “This is an exercise.”

In addition, a separate radio frequency should be assigned for use by controllers when coordinating exercise logistics, updating exercise status, and relaying information on real emergencies, if necessary. Handheld radios should be provided to all controllers prior to an exercise.

Videotaping

Because of security concerns, it is important for the exercise planning team to determine which parts of an exercise, if any, will be videotaped. If there is a videotaping team, members should be clearly identified before they are allowed in the exercise play area or to specific locations. This team should not be confused with members of the media.

Site Security

Because of the sensitive nature of exercises, consideration should be given to ensuring the safety and security of participants, media personnel, traffic, and equipment.

Equipment Check/Policy

It is recommended that all exercises have a written equipment policy in place prior to exercise conduct. In accordance with that policy, only qualified individual(s) should perform an equipment check to clear all inspected equipment. This equipment should be clearly marked to indicate they are safe for use in exercise play. All players, with the exception of site security personnel, must adhere to this policy.

Safety

The following safety issues should be addressed:

  • Identify a Safety Controller (not to be confused with a Safety Officer designated by IC)
  • Dedicate advanced life support or basic life support ambulance unit(s) for real-world emergencies only
  • Identify real-world emergency procedures with a code word or phrase
  • Identify safety issues and requirements

Post-exercise Clean-up

It is important to consider the coordination of post-exercise cleanup. Participating organizations are responsible for the set-up and take-down of equipment that is used in the exercise,

Conduct of Exercise Participants

Exercise Play Rules

Exercise play rules establish the parameters that participants will follow. These rules describe appropriate behavior for participants when physical contact is necessary or when participant actions become overemotional or excessive. Rules should be established in advance of the exercise to prevent physical harm to individuals or damage to property, and approved by appropriate authorities.

Players

Players are agency personnel who perform their regular roles and responsibilities during the exercise. Communications personnel who may be offsite but who have an integral role in directing agency responses and actions are also players. Players initiate actions that control and mitigate the simulated emergency.

TIP: Some communities include venue employees (e.g., stadium concessionaires, security guards) as planning team members and/or players or support staff during exercise conduct (to practice internal procedures such as notification and evacuation).

Controllers

Controllers are exercise participants who plan and manage exercise play, set up and operate the exercise incident site, and act in the roles of response individuals and organizations not actually playing in the exercise. Controllers give key data to players and may prompt or initiate certain player actions (as listed in the MSEL/PROFLOW) to ensure exercise continuity. Controllers are the only participants who should provide information or direction to players. All controllers should be accountable to a Senior Controller. A controller may also serve as an evaluator.

Evaluators

Evaluators are chosen from various organizations to evaluate and comment on designated functional areas. They are chosen based on their expertise in the functional area(s) they review, and have a passive role. They only note the actions of players and do not interfere with exercise flow.

Actors

Actors are volunteer exercise participants who simulate specific roles during exercise play. An actor also may serve as an evaluator or as a simulator acting on behalf of an agency or organization not playing in an exercise. Individuals acting as simulators are usually placed in a SIMCELL to inject messages via phone, fax, or e-mail.

Observers

Observers view all or selected portions of exercise play. They do not participate in exercise play or in exercise control functions. In some cases you could ask observers to participate as facilitators or evaluators, especially if you are short staffed on personnel or space.

Briefings

Held prior to an exercise, briefings educate participants about their roles and responsibilities. By scheduling separate briefings for controllers and evaluators, actors, and players who are either onsite or offsite, planning team members can avoid giving extraneous material to different groups. Presentations should accompany most of these briefings. Subsequent debriefs then provide an opportunity to review general exercise proceedings after the exercise is completed.

Controller and Evaluator Briefing

The Controller and Evaluator (C/E) briefing is generally conducted the day before an operations-based exercise. It begins with an exercise overview and then covers location and area, schedule of events, scenario, control concept, controller and evaluator responsibilities, and any miscellaneous information. This briefing generally lasts 1 to 2 hours.

Hospital Briefing

A hospital briefing is generally conducted the day before an operations-based exercise for participating hospital controllers and evaluators. It is used to review communications between the exercise site and hospitals, notification procedures, schedule of events, scenario, controller and evaluator responsibilities, actor issues, and any miscellaneous information. This briefing generally lasts 1 to 2 hours.

Actor Briefing

The actor briefing is generally conducted on the morning of the exercise, prior to the victim actors taking their positions on the exercise field. The victim actor coordinator should cover the following information: exercise overview, safety, what to do in the event of an actual emergency, symptomology, acting instructions, and schedule. Identification badges and symptomology cards should be distributed before or during this briefing. If moulage is to be applied to actors, it should be completed before the briefing.

Observer Briefing

An observer briefing informs exercise observers about exercise background, scenario, and schedule of events, observer limitations, and any other miscellaneous information. The observer briefing is generally conducted the day of an exercise and lasts approximately 1 hour.

Player Hot-wash

The player hot-wash occurs immediately following the exercise. Players should complete and submit their feedback forms during the hot-wash. Evaluators should take notes for later compilation during play and hot-washes in their functional areas. Information from the participant feedback forms should be used to help generate the After Action Report (AAR). Attendance lists should be collected and secured by the Lead Exercise Planner.

Controller and Evaluator Debriefing

The Controller and Evaluator (C/E) debriefing provides a forum for functional area controllers and evaluators to review the exercise. The Lead Exercise Planner or Exercise Director should facilitate this debriefing. During the debriefing, controllers and evaluators should complete and submit their EEG and feedback forms. Debriefing results should be captured for inclusion in the AAR.

Hospital Debriefing

This debriefing is generally conducted the day after the exercise, and enables hospital representatives to assess the medical team’s response. It features a facilitated discussion covering each hospital’s experience during the incident. During the debriefing, controllers and evaluators should complete and submit their EEG and feedback forms. This debriefing should be facilitated by the Exercise Director or Lead Hospital Controller. Results should be captured for inclusion in the AAR.

Exercise Enhancement

Enhanced exercises provide a realistic scenario or field environment and add an increased level of learning potential for participants. Enhancements can include:

  • Props and devices to add realism
  • Real equipment, as opposed to simulated props
  • Personnel, such as actual team members and victim actors
  • Special effects, such as moulage/makeup and explosives

Evaluation

The evaluation process for all operations-based exercises should include a formal exercise evaluation, integrated analysis, and the AAR & CAP. This process begins during exercise planning and ends when improvements have been implemented and validated through subsequent exercises. As defined in Phase 4, the evaluation process includes 7 key steps (see page 25).

After Action Conference

The lead facilitator should review the draft AAR and ask participants to identify action items to address the issues and recommendations. Once these action items have been identified, the draft AAR should be finalized, and responsibility should be assigned to an individual, an agency, or an organization. Due dates should also be established.

After Action Report

A draft After Action Report (AAR) should be completed within 30 days of exercise conclusion. To allow sufficient time for review, it is recommended that the exercise planning team have the draft completed within 3 weeks. Once the Lead Exercise Planner concurs with all, if any, changes, the AAR may be approved for publication.

The Lead Exercise Planner will determine the number of copies of the AAR needed and distribute them to participants. A copy of the final AAR should be made available to all exercise directors, planners, coordinators, and all other participants.

Corrective Action Plan

The Corrective Action Plan (CAP) is the means by which the lessons learned from the exercise are converted into concrete, measurable steps that will result in improved response capabilities. It is developed by the jurisdiction and specifically details the actions that will be taken to address each recommendation presented in the draft AAR, who or what agency will be responsible for taking the action, and the timeline for completion. The CAP may identify the need for additional training or exercises. The final CAP is included in the final AAR.

Responsibilities for an initial CAP should be assigned at the exercise debrief.

Tracking Implementation

After recommendations and action items have been identified in the CAP, and responsibility and due dates have been assigned, the jurisdiction should ensure that each action item is tracked to completion.

Annex A: Exercise Planning Conferences and Meetings

Concept and Objectives (C&O) Meeting: Used to identify the type, scope, objectives, and purpose of the exercise. Typically attended by the sponsoring agency, lead exercise planner, and senior officials.

Initial Planning Conference (IPC): Lays the foundation for exercise development; used to gather input from the exercise planning team on the scope, design, objectives, and scenario variables (e.g., hazard selection, venue). The IPC provides an opportunity to obtain the planning team’s input on exercise location, schedule, duration, and other details required to develop exercise documentation. Planning team members should be assigned responsibility for the tasks outlined in the meeting.

Mid-Term Planning Conference (MPC): Typically employed for operations-based exercises (e.g., drills, FE, and FSE), the MPC presents an additional opportunity in the planning timeline to settle logistical and organizational issues that arise during planning such as staffing concepts, scenario and timeline development, scheduling, logistics, administrative requirements, and reviewing draft documentation. A Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) Conference can be held in conjunction with or separate from the MPC to review the scenario timeline for the exercise.

Final Planning Conference (FPC): A forum to review the process and procedures for conducting the exercise, final drafts of all exercise materials, and all logistical requirements. There should be no major changes made to either the design or the scope of the exercise or to any supporting documentation.

Annex B: Exercise Documentation

Situation Manual (SITMAN): A participant handbook for discussion-based exercises, particularly tabletop exercises (TTXs). It provides background information on the exercise scope, schedule, and objectives. It also presents the scenario narrative that will drive participant discussions during the exercise. The SITMAN should mirror the multimedia briefing, supporting the scenario narrative and allowing participants to read along while watching events unfold.

Exercise Plan (EXPLAN): Provides a summary of the exercise and is published and distributed prior to the start of the exercise. It is typically used for operations-based exercises In addition to addressing exercise objectives and scope the EXPLAN assigns tasks and responsibilities for successful exercise execution. The EXPLAN should not contain detailed scenario information, such as the hazard to be employed. This document is generally intended for exercise players and observers.

Exercise Control Plan: Contains more detailed information about the exercise scenario and describes the controller staff roles and responsibilities. It is best to distribute the Exercise Control Plan to those individuals specifically designated as controllers and evaluators.

Player Handbook: Contains a list of instructions for players, as well as information about player responsibilities and functions. It assists the players in understanding the ground rules, the overall objectives and scope of the exercise, limits of play, simulation plans and the debriefing process.

Controller and Evaluator (C/E) Handbook: Supplements the EXPLAN, containing more detailed information about the exercise scenario and describing exercise controllers’ and evaluators’ roles and responsibilities. Because the C/E Handbook contains information on the scenario and exercise administration, it should be distributed only to those individuals specifically designated as controllers and/or evaluators. Larger, more complex exercises may use Control Staff Instructions (COSIN) and an Evaluation Plan (EVALPLAN) in place of or to supplement the C/E Handbook.

Master Scenario Events List (MSEL): A chronological timeline of expected actions and scripted events that generate or prompt player activity. It ensures necessary events happen so that all objectives are met. Larger, more complex exercises may also employ a Procedural Flow (PROFLOW), which differs from the MSEL in that it only contains expected player actions or events.

Exercise Evaluation Guides (EEGs): Developed to help with exercise evaluation. These guides incorporate the critical tasks that should be completed in an exercise and provide evaluators with consistent standards for observation, analysis, and After Action Report (AAR) development.

Exercise Evaluation Plan (EVALPLAN): A document that is typically used for operations-based exercises and helps exercise evaluators conduct an effective analysis of the exercise and produce a comprehensive AAR.

Final Exercise Report: Contains the goals, objectives, and planned outcomes of the exercise, along with an outline of the scenario and the planning process. It should also contain an evaluation section in which positive and negative observations are recorded and recommendations are made. The report should be compiled after the debrief in order to provide feedback to the participating organizations.

Acronyms

AAR - After Action Report

A/V - Audio/Visual

CAP - Corrective Action Plan

C&O - Concept and Objectives

C/E Handbook - Controller and Evaluator Handbook

COSIN - Control Staff Instructions

EEG - Exercise Evaluation Guide

EIO - Exercise Information Officer

EOC -Emergency Operations Centre

EOP - Emergency Operating Procedures

EVALPLAN - Evaluation Plan

EXPLAN - Exercise Plan

FE - Functional Exercise

FPC - Final Planning Conference

FSE - Full-scale Exercise

HIRA - Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

IC - Incident Command

IMS - Incident Management System

IP - Improvement Plan

IPC - Initial Planning Conference

LEP - Lead Exercise Planner

MSEL - Master Scenario Events List

MPC - Mid-term Planning Conference

PROFLOW - Procedural Flow

SIMCELL - Simulation Cell

SITMAN - Situation Manual

SME - Subject Matter Expert

SOP - Standard Operating Procedures

TTX - Tabletop Exercise

Glossary

A

Actor – is someone who acts as a patient or victim during an exercise.

Actual Event – is a “real life” occurrence of a natural or man-made hazard requiring the mobilization of emergency response personnel.

After Action Report (AAR) – refers to the formal written documentation analyzing the performance of assigned personnel after an exercise or actual event. It is the final product of an exercise and captures observations and recommendations based on the exercise objectives as associated with the capabilities and tasks.

Artificialities – are the conditions created by the design of an exercise that do not simulate or mirror actual conditions. The use of artificialities may interfere with the participant’s ability to respond realistically.

B

Briefing – is a meeting held, before the exercise begins, to inform participants on the ground rules of conduct and their roles and responsibilities. A briefing covers the exercise objectives and scope, the parameters and limits of play, simulations, and how and when the debriefing process will occur. Actors, players, observers, and controllers/evaluators, usually attend separate briefings.

Building Block Approach - is a focus on exposing participants to a cycle of training and exercises that escalates in complexity, with each exercise designed to build upon the last, in terms of scale and subject matter. For example, a building-block series of exercises may include a seminar, which leads to a tabletop exercise (TTX), which leads to a full-scale exercise (FSE).

C

Checklist – is a written list of items intended to aid memory that describes the actions that need to be taken by an assigned individual or an organization.

Concept & Objectives Meeting (C&O Meeting) - is the formal beginning of the exercise planning process. It is held to agree upon already-identified type, scope, capabilities, objectives, and purpose of the exercise. For less complex exercises and for organizations with limited resources, the C&O Meeting can be conducted in conjunction with the Initial Planning Conference (IPC). However, when the exercise scope dictates, the C&O Meeting is held first. Representatives from the sponsoring organization, the lead exercise planner, and senior officials typically attend the C&O Meeting to identify an overall exercise goal, develop rough drafts of exercise capabilities and objectives, and identify exercise planning team members.

Contingency Injects – are injects that are prepared in case participants do not take the anticipated action that is to be driven by that key event in a timely manner. They redirect play so exercise goals can be met.

Control Cell – is a location away from exercise participants that provides a facility for control and management of an exercise.

Controller – is a person whose role is to ensure the objectives are sufficiently exercised, the level of activity keeps participants occupied and challenged, and the pace (flow) of the exercise proceeds according to the scenario.

Controller and Evaluator (C/E) Handbook - supplements the Exercise Plan (EXPLAN) for operations-based exercises, containing more detailed information about the exercise scenario and describing exercise controllers' and evaluators' roles and responsibilities. Because the C/E Handbook contains information on the scenario and exercise administration, it is distributed only to those individuals specifically designated as controllers or evaluators.

Controller Inject – refers to the introduction of events, data, and information into exercises by a controller to drive the demonstration of the objectives.

Corrective Action Plan (CAP) – is a process that follows an exercise to identify program shortfalls and necessary corrective actions to address those shortfalls.

Critical Infrastructure – in Canada this is defined as those physical and information technology facilities, networks, services and assets which, if disrupted or destroyed, would have a serious impact on the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians or the effective functioning of governments in Canada.

Critique – is also called a Debriefing or Hot-wash. It refers to a meeting of participants, facilitators and/or controllers, and evaluators following the conclusion of the exercise activity to provide essential comments on operations and performance during exercise play.

D

Damage Assessment – is the process used to appraise or determine the number of injuries and deaths, damage to public and private property, and the status of key facilities and services such as hospitals, health care facilities, fire and police facilities, communication networks, water and sanitation systems, utilities, and transportation networks, all resulting from a man-made or natural disaster.

Debriefing – see Critique. This term may also be called a Hot-wash.

Design and Development - builds on the exercise foundation. The design and development process consists of identifying capabilities, tasks, and objectives, designing the scenario, creating documentation, coordinating logistics, planning exercise conduct, and selecting an evaluation and improvement methodology.

Disaster – is an occurrence of a natural catastrophe, technological accident, or human caused event that has resulted in severe property damage, deaths, and/or multiple injuries.

Discussions-based Exercises – are exercises that familiarize participants with current plans, policies, agreements and procedures. They are also used to develop new plans, policies, agreements, and procedures.

Drill – is an event involving organizational responses to a simulated accident or emergency exercise activity to develop, test, and monitor specialized emergency skills that constitute one or more components (functions) of an emergency operations plan and procedure. It is a coordinated, supervised activity and is usually used to test a single, specific operation or function within a single entity (e.g., a fire department conducts a decontamination drill).

Due Diligence - is the level of judgment, care, prudence, determination, and activity that a person would reasonably be expected to do under particular circumstances. As applied to an emergency program, due diligence means that all reasonable precautions are taken to address public safety risks, including during response to an emergency. This duty also applies to situations that are not addressed elsewhere in the occupational health and safety legislation.

E

Emergency – is a situation or an impending situation caused by the forces of nature, an accident, and an intentional act or otherwise that constitutes a danger of major proportions to life or property. These situations could threaten public safety, public health, the environment, property, critical infrastructure and economic stability. Three categories of emergencies: Human-Caused, Natural and Technological.

Emergency Area – is a geographic area within which an emergency has occurred or is about to occur, and which has been identified, delineated and designated to receive emergency response actions.

Emergency Information refers to information about an emergency, which is communicated broadly to the organization and other stakeholders.

Emergency Management – refers to the organized and comprehensive programs and activities undertaken to deal with actual or potential emergencies or disasters. These include prevention of, mitigation against, preparedness for, response to and recovery from emergencies or disasters.

Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is a facility where the Control Group assembles to manage an emergency. In a real emergency, the EOC is a protected site where officials coordinate, monitor, and direct response and recovery activities.

Emergency Operating Procedures (EOP) – is a document that describes how people and property will be protected during a threat or actual emergency/disaster, detailing who is responsible for carrying out specific actions. It identifies the personnel, equipment, facilities, supplies, and other resources available for use in the emergency/disaster, and outlines how all the actions will be coordinated.

Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is a risk-based plan developed and maintained to respond to an emergency.

Emergency Response Organization is a group or organization (public, private or volunteer) with emergency response trained staff that are prepared and may be called upon to respond as part of the coordinated response to an emergency situation.

Evacuation – refers to the organized, phased, and supervised dispersal of people from dangerous or potentially dangerous areas.

Evaluation – is the process of observing and recording exercise activities, comparing performance of participants against exercise objectives, and noting strengths and deficiencies.

Evaluation Team - consists of evaluators trained to observe and record participant actions. These individuals should be familiar with the exercising organization’s plans, policies, procedures, and agreements.

Evaluator – is an individual assigned to one or more exercise functions or locations to document and evaluate individual, team, and organizational performance based on the exercise objectives and performance criteria.

Evaluation Methodology – refers to the procedures and strategy used to evaluate an exercise. This would include the structure of the evaluation team, objectives, and the evaluation packet.

Evaluation Team – refers to a group of individuals formed to complete evaluation tasks for an exercise.

Exercise – is a simulated emergency, in which members of various agencies perform the tasks that would be expected of them in a real emergency.

Exercise Activity – is an activity that provides an opportunity for participants to train in and practice emergency and crisis management skills. Exercise activities provide a method of evaluating participants’ ability to meet emergency and crisis management requirements and responsibilities.

Exercise Control Plan – Contains more detailed information about the exercise scenario and describes the controller staff roles and responsibilities. It is best to distribute the Exercise Control Plan to those individuals specifically designated as controllers and evaluators.

Exercise Coordinator – is the person given the responsibility for and authority to properly plan an exercise.

Exercise Directive – is a letter or memo sent to organizations invited to play in an exercise. The directive is one means of gaining support from those who should participate in the exercise.

Exercise Director - The exercise director oversees all exercise functions during exercise conduct; oversees and remains in contact with controllers and evaluators; debriefs controllers and evaluators following the exercise; and oversees setup and cleanup of exercise and positioning of controllers and evaluators.

Exercise Documentation – refers to all information that is formulated and collected, from the initial design planning of the exercise to the final After Action Report (AAR).

Exercise Enhancements – is a list of resources that can be gathered to add “realism” to the exercise. This would include communications equipment, visuals, charts, computers, video, props, special equipment, and people.

Exercise Evaluation - the act of observing and recording exercise activity or conduct, by comparing the behaviour or actions against the exercise objectives, while noting strengths and weaknesses.

Exercise Evaluation Guide (EEG) – is a guide that helps evaluators collect and interpret relevant exercise observations. EEGs provide evaluators with information on what tasks they should expect to see accomplished during an exercise, space to record observations, and questions to address after the exercise as a first step in the analysis process.

Exercise Evaluation Plan (EVALPLAN) - is typically used for operations-based exercises of a large scope and scale. This document provides specific guidance to exercise evaluators. It’s designed to help exercise evaluators understand their roles and responsibilities in exercise data collection and evaluation in order to conduct an effective analysis of the exercise and produce a comprehensive AAR/IP.

Exercise Objectives - are established for every exercise. Well-defined objectives provide a framework for scenario development, guide individual organizations’ objective development, and inform exercise evaluation criteria. Organizations should frame exercise objectives with the aim of attaining capabilities established as priorities in the Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plan and schedule. Objectives should reflect specific capabilities that the exercising organization establishes as priorities, and the tasks associated with those capabilities. Objectives should be simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and task-oriented (SMART). Planners should limit the number of exercise objectives to enable timely execution and to facilitate design of a realistic scenario.

Exercise Phase – refers to the periods before, during, and after the exercise, as exercise tasks are organized.

Exercise Plan (EXPLAN) – is a plan typically used for operations-based exercises. It provides a synopsis of the exercise and is published and distributed to participants and observers prior to the start of the exercise. The EXPLAN includes the exercise objectives and scope, safety procedures, and logistical considerations such as an exercise schedule.

The EXPLAN enables participants to understand their roles and responsibilities in exercise planning, execution, and evaluation. It’s intended for use by exercise players and observers—therefore, it does not contain detailed scenario information that may reduce the realism of the tasks to be performed. Players and observers should review all elements of the EXPLAN prior to exercise participation.

Exercise Planning Team – a group of individuals with the overall responsibility for all phases of an exercise.

Exercise Play – refers to the actual conduct of an exercise from initiation to termination.

Exercise Program – refers to an exercise program that is risk-based and includes a cycle, mix, and range of exercise activities of varying degrees of complexity and interaction.

Exercise Scenario - provides the backdrop and storyline that drive an exercise. The first step in designing a scenario is determining the type of hazard to be used in an exercise. The hazards selected for an exercise should realistically stress the capabilities an organization is attempting to improve through its exercise programs. A hazard should also be a realistic representation of potential perils faced by the exercising jurisdiction. For discussion-based exercises, a scenario provides the backdrop that drives participant discussion. For operations-based exercises, the scenario should provide background information on the incident catalyst of the exercise.

Exercise Scope – refers to the process of determining realistic limits on the personnel, organizations, and resources required to conduct an exercise activity, based on the needs assessment. This includes hazards, geographical area, functions, agencies and personnel, and exercise type.

Expected Actions – refers to the actions or decisions that are expected of the participants in order to demonstrate competence, based on the objectives of the exercise.

F

Facilitator – is a specially trained individual assigned responsibility for guiding participant discussions during tabletop exercises to ensure key issues are addressed.

Final Exercise Report – Contains the goals, objectives, and planned outcomes of the exercise, along with an outline of the scenario and the planning process. It should also contain an evaluation section in which positive and negative observations are recorded and recommendations are made. The report should be compiled after the debrief in order to provide feedback to the participating organizations.

Final Planning Conference (FPC) - is the final forum for reviewing exercise processes and procedures before the exercise begins. It’s the forum for the exercise planning team to review the process and procedures for exercise conduct, final drafts of all exercise materials, and all logistical requirements. There should be no major changes made to either the design or the scope of the exercise, nor to any supporting documentation, at the FPC. The FPC ensures all logistical requirements have been arranged, all outstanding issues have been identified and resolved, and all exercise products are ready for printing.

Foundation - is the first stage in the exercise process, focusing on developing a project management timeline, establishing milestones, identifying an exercise planning team, and scheduling planning conferences.

Free-play – is a spontaneous message injected by a simulator or controller, prompted by the performance or non-performance of the players.

Full-scale Exercise – is an activity intended to evaluate the capability of emergency management systems over a period of time by testing the major portions of an emergency operations plan and organizations. (This will include the mobilization of personnel, equipment, and resources, their actual movement, and testing the coordination and response capability.) It is a multi-organizational, multi-jurisdictional, multi-discipline exercise involving functional (e.g., joint field office, emergency operation centres, etc.) and "boots on the ground" response (e.g., firefighters decontaminating mock victims).

Function refers to actions or operations required in emergency response or recovery, such as alert notification, communications, and coordination/control.

Functional Exercise – refers to activities designed to test or evaluate the capability of individual or multiple emergency functions, with time constraints, and normally in the emergency operations centre (EOC). This activity, based on a scenario event, provides practice for participants without movement of personnel or equipment. It examines and/or validates the coordination, command, and control between various multi-agency coordination centres (e.g., emergency operation centre, joint field office, etc.). A functional exercise does not involve any "boots on the ground" (i.e., first responders or emergency officials responding to an incident in real time).

G

Game is an exercise that explores the way decisions are made, and the consequences of those decisions in a simulated situation. In a game, the same situation can be examined from various angles by changing the variables that guide participants’ actions. It often involves two or more teams, usually in a competitive environment, using rules, data, and procedures designed to depict an actual or assumed real-life situation.

Goal of an Exercise – refers to the purpose of conducting an exercise activity and what is to be accomplished.

H

Hazard – is any dangerous event or circumstance that has the potential to lead to an emergency or disaster.

Hot-wash – An immediate debriefing session between participants and members of the exercise planning team to discuss their preliminary observations. A hot-wash is done while events are fresh in everyone’s minds. What went right, as well as what went wrong, is identified. Ideas about how to improve in the future are freely shared. The Exercise Controller must carefully avoid two dangers here: first, self-congratulatory accounts that mask important deficiencies and, second, the creation of an impression that someone or something is to blame. This information will be used in writing the After Action Report (AAR). (See also Critique. This term may also be called a Debriefing.)

I

Improvement Plan (IP) – is a plan that builds on the After Action Report (AAR) by identifying specific corrective actions, assigning these actions to responsible parties, and establishing targets for their completion. For each task, the Improvement Plan (IP) lists the corrective actions that will be taken, the responsible party or agency, and the expected completion date. The Improvement Plan (IP) is included at the end of the After Action Report (AAR).

Incident Management System (IMS) – refers to the organizational structure used to coordinate the resources and personnel that have responded to the scene of an emergency or disaster.

Initial Planning Conference (IPC) is an activity to bring together the stakeholders and plan the upcoming year(s) of exercises. The Initial Planning Conference (IPC) is typically the first step in the planning process and lays the foundation for the exercise (unless a Concept & Objectives (C&O) Meeting is held). Its purpose is to gather input from the exercise planning team on the scope; design requirements and conditions (such as assumptions and artificialities); objectives; level of participation; and scenario variables (e.g., location, hazard selection), and Master Scenario Events List (MSEL). During the Initial Planning Conference (IPC), the exercise planning team decides on exercise location, schedule, duration, and other details required to develop exercise documentation. Planning team members should be assigned responsibility for the tasks outlined in the conference.

Inject – is an instruction to controllers to insert information and/or begin simulations, actions, and contingency messages. The terms “inject” and “messages” are used interchangeably and sometimes together. They are associated with the Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) and link simulation to action and enhance the exercise. They are formatted and presented to reflect the data that would be observed in a real event. Contingency messages are injects that are used when expected response actions do not occur. They redirect play so exercise goals can be met.

J

Job Aids – is a mechanism to provide shot-term training for procedures, processes, and functions. This could include checklists, procedure lists, decision guides, forms and worksheets, and reference sources.

Joint Information Centre /Joint Public Information Centre is a central point of contact for all news media near the scene of a large-scale disaster or exercise.

L

Lead Controller – is the person with overall responsibility for exercise management and information flow during drills and exercises. Decisions on deviations from pre-scripted scenario or exercise terminations are coordinated through this position.

Lead Evaluator – is the person with overall responsibility for directing the documentation and evaluation of drills and exercises. The lead evaluator participates fully as a member of the exercise planning team, and is a senior-level individual familiar with: prevention, protection, response, and/or recovery issues associated with the exercise; Plans, policies, and procedures of the exercising organization; Incident Management and decision-making processes of the exercising organization; and inter-organizational and/or inter-jurisdictional coordination issues relevant to the exercise. The lead evaluator needs to have the management skills needed to oversee a team of evaluators over an extended process, as well as the knowledge and analytical skills to undertake a thorough and accurate analysis of all capabilities being tested during an exercise.

Lead Exercise Planner - oversees the exercise planning team; develops the exercise project management timeline and the exercise project management assignment list; assigns exercise responsibilities; provides overall guidance; and monitors the development process.

M

Major Events – is a list of likely problems resulting from a disaster scenario which are expected events (based on case studies or operational plans), as it coincides with the exercise objectives.

Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) – is a chronological timeline of expected actions and scripted events (i.e., injects) to be inserted into operations-based exercise play by controllers in order to generate or prompt player activity. It ensures necessary events happen so that all exercise objectives are met.

Master Scenario Events List Conference (MSEL Conference) - may be held in preparation for more complex, operations-based exercises, specifically to review the scenario timeline and focus on MSEL development.

Message – is an instruction to controllers to insert information and/or begin simulations, actions, and contingency messages. Messages are disseminated by the exercise simulators, and may be verbal, written or in the form of a visual display. They are formatted and presented to reflect the data that would be observed in a real event. The terms inject and messages are used interchangeably and sometimes together.

Mid-Term Planning Conference (MPC) – is an operations-based exercise planning conference, used to discuss exercise organization and staffing concepts; scenario and timeline development; and scheduling, logistics, and administrative requirements. It is also a session to review draft documentation (e.g., scenario, EXPLAN, C/E Handbook, MSEL). (Note: A MSEL Conference can be held in conjunction with or separate from the MPC to review the scenario timeline for the exercise.)

Minor (Detailed) Events – refers to problems within major events that are specific in nature and normally require an operational response.

Mitigation – refers to the sustained actions taken to eliminate or reduce risks and impacts posed by hazards well before an emergency or disaster occurs. Mitigation activities may be included as part of prevention.

Moulage - Moulage is makeup applied to victim actors to add realism to an exercise. It can include fake blood, plastic bones, and any other makeup that helps a victim actor emulate the signs and symptoms on his/her symptomology card.

Multi-Year Progressive Exercise Plan is a document that describes exercise activities over several years, based on the needs of an organization. It is the foundational document guiding a successful exercise program. The multi-year plan provides a mechanism for long-term coordination of training and exercise activities toward an organization’s preparedness goals. This plan describes the program’s training and exercise priorities and associated capabilities, and aids in employing the building-block approach for training and exercise activities.

Mutual Aid Agreement is an agreement developed between two or more emergency services to render aid to the parties of the agreement. These types of agreements can include private sector emergency services when appropriate.

Mutual Assistance Agreement is an agreement developed between two or more organizations or jurisdictions to render assistance to the parties of the agreement. Jurisdictions could include neighbouring, cities, regions, provinces or nations.

N

Narrative Summary is a short overview of the exercise scenario written in paragraph form, outlining major events.

Needs Assessment – is a process of defining an organization’s inventory of problems or needs.

O

Objectives – are the stated goals of exercise activities. Objectives define the level of skill and specific capabilities to be demonstrated by players during the exercise. Exercise objectives are used as the basis of evaluation of exercise performance or assessment of training effectiveness.

Observer - is someone who has no role to play in the exercise but is witnessing events either to assess the preparations of the organization or individuals within it, or to learn lessons.

Operations-based Exercises – are exercises that validate plans, policies, agreements and procedures, clarify roles and responsibilities, and identify resource gaps in an operational environment.

P

Participant – refers to a person involved in carrying out the exercise. The term includes actors, controllers, data collectors/evaluators, facilitators, and players. It does not include observers.

Performance Standards – are the criteria by which operational and management functions can be measured to evaluate the degree to which those functions have achieved a minimum level of quality.

Player – is an exercise participant who is responsible for taking whatever actions are necessary to respond to a simulated emergency.

Player Handbook – Contains a list of instructions for players, as well as information about player responsibilities and functions. It assists the players in understanding the ground rules, the overall objectives and scope of the exercise, limits of play, simulation plans and the debriefing process.

Player Handout - is a 1-2 page document, usually handed out the morning of an exercise, which provides a quick reference for exercise players on safety procedures, logistical considerations, exercise schedule, and other key factors and information.

Preparedness refers to the actions taken prior to an emergency or disaster to ensure an effective response. These actions include the formulation of an emergency response plan, a business continuity/continuity of operations plan, training, exercises, and public awareness and education.

Prevention refers to actions taken to avoid the occurrence of negative consequences associated with a given hazard or risk. Prevention activities may be included as part of mitigation.

Private Sector refers to a business or industry not owned or managed by any level of government.

Prompt – refers to the act of a controller providing information to a player that he/she did not “earn”, or take initiative on his/her own to obtain through normal channels methods.

Public Awareness Program is a program that provides generic information to the broader public to raise awareness about emergency management and suggests ways to reduce the risk of loss of life and property damage in the event of an emergency.

Public Sector is a particular element or component of government, i.e. police, fire, public works, of a municipal, provincial/territorial or federal government.

Purpose Statement – is a broad statement of the exercise goal used to communicate why the exercise is being conducted.

R

Real Time – refers to when actual time is used for the simulated events to take place.

Reception Centre –is a place to which evacuees can go to register, receive assistance for basic needs, information and referral to a shelter if required. It is usually located outside the impact zone of the emergency.

Recorder – is a person who notes critical events and times during an exercise.

Recovery – refers to the actions taken to recover from an emergency or disaster. It also means attempting to return as close to normal as possible, during and immediately following an emergency or disaster. Short-term recovery involves re-instituting immediate needs of victims (food, power, sanitation, water, communications, shelter, etc.). Long-term recovery is activities or projects that will take considerable time to resolve (relocation of flood prone residents, rebuilding of a public facility, counselling programs, etc.).

Response refers to the actions taken to respond to an emergency or disaster. These are the activities that occur during and immediately following an emergency or disaster that are designed to provide emergency assistance to the victims and reduce the likelihood of secondary damage.

Risk refers to a chance or possibility of danger, loss, injury, or other adverse consequences.

Risk Assessment refers to the identification of risks to public safety, public health, the environment, property, critical infrastructure and economic stability from natural, human-caused and technological sources/activities, and evaluation of the importance of the activity to continued operations. Vulnerability of an organization to each activity should also be evaluated.

Rules of Play – refers to the exercise instructions for participants that provide an orientation covering the extent of play, administrative and logistical matters, safety procedures, and other concerns of the exercise.

S

Scenario – is a sequential account of a simulated emergency or disaster providing the catalyst for the exercise. It introduces situations that solicit responses and allows demonstration of exercise objectives. It is a hypothetical situation or chain of events that depicts an incident, emergency, or crisis and all the associated consequences. It is then used to guide simulation during a drill or exercise.

Scenario Time – is expressed in terms of time elapsed since the initiating event.

Scenario Narrative – is the part of the scenario that sets the scene for an exercise to begin, consisting of a hypothetical emergency or disaster situation, creating the need for emergency response.

Scope and Extent of Play – refers to the parameters within which the exercise activity will be conducted. It defines the duration, participants’ involvement, level of detail and simulation, and extent of mobilization. It also indicates whether exercise time and date will be announced or unannounced.

Seminar - is an informal discussion exercise, designed to orient the participants to new or updated plans, policies, or procedures (e.g., a seminar to review a new Evacuation Standard Operating Procedure).

Should indicates a recommendation or that which is advised but not required.

Simulation – refers to the creation of a perception of a situation, event, or environment, which will evoke responses similar to those of a real emergency.

Simulation Cell – refers to the exercise control personnel who portray roles for organizations or personnel outside the exercise environment. The cell is responsible for artificially duplicating or role playing response activities.

Simulator – is an individual assigned the responsibility to artificially duplicate (role play) the response activities of personnel and groups not participating in the exercise.

Situation Manual (SITMAN) - is a participant handbook for discussion-based exercises, particularly tabletop exercises (TTXs). It provides background information on exercise scope, schedule, and objectives. It also presents the scenario narrative that will drive participant discussions during the exercise.

Situation Report (SITREP) – is a report on the current situation in a simulated emergency during an exercise.

Standard – refers to the common criteria used to measure performance.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) refers to a set of instructions constituting a directive, covering those features of operations which lend themselves to a definite step-by-step process of accomplishment.

T

Tabletop Exercise – is an activity in which key staff or other emergency management personnel are gathered together informally and without time constraints, usually in a conference room setting, to discuss various simulated emergency situations. The focus is on examination and discussion of problems with resolution.

Telecommunications – is the transmission or reception of signs, images, sound or intelligence of any kind over, wires, by radio waves or other technical systems.

Threat – refers to a person, thing or event regarded as a likely cause of harm or damage.

Time-jump – refers to a mechanism by which scenario events may be artificially accelerated in order to place participants in situations that would occur at a future point in time. Time jumps require exercise play to be stopped and then to resume at some future point in time. Time jumps are done to include events that otherwise would not occur in the limited amount of time allowed for an exercise.

Timeline – is a sequential listing of the times and key events in a scenario that drive participant response.

Training – refers to activities undertaken to educate personnel assigned to emergency response and crisis management roles and responsibilities. Training is designed to provide an opportunity to practice crisis and emergency management skills, ensuring that they are adequately prepared to fulfill these roles in the event of an incident, emergency, or crisis.

V

Vulnerability – refers to the degree of susceptibility and resilience of the organization and environment to hazards, the characteristics of a system in terms of its capacity to anticipate, cope with and recover from events.

W

Widespread Emergency – refers to an emergency that impacts a large geographic area and affects a large number of jurisdictions simultaneously.

Work Plan – is a brief narrative describing what will be accomplished within a period of time.

Workshop – is an exercise that resembles a seminar, but is used to build specific products, such as a draft plan or policy (e.g., a Training and Exercise Plan Workshop is used to develop a Multi-year Training and Exercise Plan).

Appendices: Guidelines for the Development of an Exercise Program

Templates

Note: These templates have been provided to assist you in the design and conduct of your exercises, and should be used in conjunction with the Guidelines for the Development of an Exercise Program. It is important to note that although these templates are based on recommended practices, they are flexible and can be modified to suit the needs of your particular exercise.

Appendix 1: Phase 1: Work Plan Timeline

The following is a comprehensive Work Plan Timeline. Though quite detailed, it can be modified to suit the needs of your particular exercise, its objectives and degree of complexity, and your available resources.

Work-plan Timeline
Tasks
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
1. Foundation
            
Develop work plan timeline
            
Identify exercise team
            
Schedule first planning team conference
            
Develop exercise budget
            
Concept & Objectives Meeting (C&O)
            
Determine exercise scope
            
Initial Planning Conference (IPC)
            
Determine scenario
            
Assign responsibilities & due dates for each task
            
Prepare IPC minutes
            
Final Planning Conference (FPC)
            
Determine exercise venue
            
Conduct exercise site visit
            
Prepare FPC minutes
            
2. Design and Development
            
Scope
            
Identify design objectives
            
Identify participants
            
Scenario
            
Identify problem
            
Determine conditions
            
Determine date and time for scenario to occur
            
Documentation
            
Develop Exercise Plan (EXPLAN)
            
Develop Evaluation Plan (EVALPLAN)
            
Develop Player Handbook
            
Develop Master Scenario Events List (MSEL)
            
Develop Messages
            
Media/Public Information
            
Develop Statement of Intent for handout
            
Logistics
            
Develop correspondence letters (participant invites, thank letters)
            
Develop mailing lists (players, evaluators, planning team)
            
Provide food/refreshments
            
Safety
            
Determine real emergency procedures (including a codeword)
            
Exercise Staffing
            
Determine exercise staff needs (facilitator, evaluators, support)
            
1. Conduct
            
Briefings
            
Hand out Player Handbook
            
Hand out Evaluator Guide
            
Exercise Control
            
Conduct communications check
            
Conduct equipment check
            
Announce start of exercise
            
4. Evaluation
            
Player hot-wash
            
Prepare draft After Action Report (AAR)
            
Evaluator Debrief
            
Finalize AAR
            
Improvement Planning
            
Develop Corrective Action Plan (CAP)
            
Track implementation of AAR/IP
            

Work-plan Timeline

Appendix 2: Phase 2, Step 1: Needs Assessment

Hazards: List by priority any problems in the past, and which ones need to be exercised.

Geographical area: Look for areas that are vulnerable to hazards.

Emergency functions: Determine what function needs to be exercised.

  • Alert Notification
  • Communications
  • Coordination
  • Emergency Public Information
  • Damage Assessment
  • Health and Medical
  • Individual/Family Assistance
  • Public Safety
  • Public Works
  • Resource Management
  • Warning
  • Other

Organizations and personnel: Determine who would be involved and who needs the training. Have policies or staff changed?

  • Police
  • Fire
  • Business and Industry
  • Public Works
  • Airport
  • EMO
  • Red Cross
  • Hospital
  • EMS
  • Public Transportation
  • School District
  • Surrounding Jurisdictions
  • Volunteer Organizations
  • Others

Exercise type: Determine which exercise to conduct. At what level is the exercise experience to be…a tabletop, a seminar, or a functional exercise? How much time can be allocated for development? Is a certain type required to fulfill compliance?

  • Seminar
  • Drill
  • Game
  • Tabletop
  • Functional
  • Full-scale

Appendix 3: Phase 2, Step 2: Defining the Scope

  1. Type of Emergency: (Select one or at most two that are high priority, have not been exercised recently, or best support functions to be tested)
  2. Geographic Location: (Be specific; make sure it is logical for the hazard choice)
  3. Functions: (Choose the most important to be tested; three to five are usually sufficient)
  4. Personnel and Organizations: (Select those that would benefit most and match the functions to be tested)
  5. Exercise Type: (Consider the exercise experience of personnel involved and the desired degree of stress and complexity)

• Orientation Seminar

• Drill

• Table Top Exercise

• Functional Exercise

• Full Scale Exercise

Appendix 4: Phase 2, Step 3: Writing a Statement of Purpose

“The purpose of the proposed ______________ (type of exercise) exercise is to test and evaluate the following emergency functions:

By involving these personnel and organizations: _________________

In simulating a _____________ (exercise type) for _______________ (type of emergency)

at ________________ (geographic location/area) on_________________ (date).”

Appendix 5: Phase 2, Step 4: Define Objectives

Exercise Objectives

Objective #1:

Responsible Organization:

Objective #2:

Responsible Organization:

Objective #3:

Responsible Organization:

Appendix 6: Phase 2, Step 5: Compose a Narrative

Remember: The narrative is a brief description that will set the stage for the exercise. It provides background information about the emergency and helps participants approach the exercise as a real situation. At this stage, it is sufficient to just list key words.

Narrative Outline

Event:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Event details and progression:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

How you found out:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Response made:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Damage reported:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Sequence of events:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Current time:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Advance warning?:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Location:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Relevant weather conditions:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Other factors that would influence emergency procedures:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Predictions or expected outcomes:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Appendix 7: Phase 2, Step 6: Major and Detailed Events

Remember: It is important to review the exercise objectives. Keeping these objectives in mind will help in the development of the major events, followed by detailed events that could occur as a result of those major events.

Events

Major Event #1:

Detailed Events:

Major Event #2:

Detailed Events:

Appendix 8: Phase 2, Step 7: List Expected Actions

pected Actions Planning Sheet

Appendix 9: Phase 2, Step 8: Prepare Messages

Sample Message

Emergency Exercise

<Mayday Message>

To: Airport Control Tower

From: Pilot in plane

Method: Radio

No: 1

Time: 10:55 am

Content: “Mayday! Mayday! This is flight 456. Flight emergency. Feeling major vibrations on plane. Request emergency clearance to land immediately.”

Action Taken: This message should trigger the expected actions to be taken by the control tower to:

  1. Notify pilot of landing permission
  2. Notify police, fire, medical to proceed to airport
  3. Alert hospitals of potential mass casualty incident

Phase 2, Step 8: Prepare Messages

Emergency Exercise

<Message>

To:

From:

Method:

No:

Time:

Content:

Action Taken:

Appendix 10: Phase 2: Master Scenario Events List

Outline the events, messages, and expected actions in sequence according to the time they would occur.

ster scenario events list

Appendix 11 :Phase 2, Documentation: Exercise Plan

Exercise Name: __________________________________

General Section

This Exercise Plan identifies policies, procedures, administrative requirements, and exercise roles and responsibilities that will support exercise-planning initiatives.

Exercise Type

The exercise to be conducted is a:

  1. Orientation
  2. Drill
  3. Tabletop
  4. Functional
  5. Full-Scale

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this exercise is:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

The responsibilities of the Evaluation Team are:

  • Observe the exercise
  • Report what went well and what went poorly
  • Monitor decisions made in the exercise and then report on them

Scenario Narrative

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Scope

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

List of Exercise References

[The following are types of references to be listed.]

  • Model Community Information
  • Control Plan
  • Exercise Evaluation Plan
  • Exercise Scenarios
  • Job Aids

Assumptions, Artificialities, and Simulations

The assumptions, artificialities, and simulations applicable during the exercise are provided in the following paragraphs.

[The following assumptions are fairly generic; you may modify and/or add specifics for your own exercise.]

Exercise Assumptions

The following assumptions must be made in order to ensure that the exercise is as realistic as possible. It is intended that exercise events progress in a logical and realistic manner and that all exercise objectives be achieved during exercise play.

  • Exercise participants are well versed in their own organizational response plans and procedures.
  • The term “participants” includes planners, controllers, simulators, evaluators, and players.
  • Players and controllers will use real-world data and information support sources.
  • Players will respond in accordance with the existing Emergency Plan.
  • Implementation of disaster response plans, policies, and procedures during the exercise will depict actions that would be expected to occur under actual response conditions and, therefore, will provide a sound basis for evaluation.
  • Actions to direct unit, personnel, or resource deployments will result in simulated movement during the exercise unless live deployment in real time is stipulated to achieve an exercise objective.
  • Real-world response actions will take priority over exercise actions.

Exercise Artificialities

It is recognized that the following artificialities and constraints will detract from realism; however, exercise planners should accept these artificialities as a means of facilitating accomplishment of exercise objectives.

[This section will be based upon your extent of play agreements and include any pre-exercise player activity or pre-positioning of equipment. The following are examples.]

  • The exercise will be played in near-real time; however, to meet exercise objectives, some events may be accomplished by participants before the exercise, and other events may be accelerated in time to ensure their consideration during play.
  • Responses obtained by players from simulations may not be of the quality or detail available from the real organization or individual.
  • During the exercise, actions may occur to direct unit, personnel, or resource deployments, and subsequent movement of resources may be played; however, these actions may be simulated with no live movement occurring in the exercise.
  • Some personnel and equipment may be pre-positioned at exercise locations rather than moved in real-time during the exercise, and they will enter play at predetermined times from their pre-positioned locations. When this exercise artificiality occurs, it will be referred to in exercise documentation as exercise pre-positioning to differentiate it from the live deployments that will be evaluated.

Exercise Simulations

Simulation during exercises is required to compensate for nonparticipating individuals or organizations. Although simulations necessarily detract from realism, they provide the means to facilitate exercise play.

[Describe, in general, any areas that will be simulated. Examples include weather information, simulation of nonparticipating organizations, media, victims, evacuees, etc.]

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Exercise Objectives

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Exercise Players and Organizations Participating in Exercise

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Management Structure

Overall exercise planning, conduct, and evaluation for the exercise is the responsibility of the ___________________ [insert title], who is/are responsible for coordinating all exercise planning activities.


Exercise Team Staffing, Rules, and Procedures

[You may adapt the following text and charts to reflect your exercise management structure.]

The personnel selected as exercise team members must be knowledgeable of emergency management and response functions. They need this knowledge to understand ongoing exercise activities and to be able to track them. In order to meet this need, individuals who meet these requirements may be recruited from nonparticipating (or participating) emergency response organizations.

The exercise team will identify rules or guidelines for conduct during the exercise and will identify procedures of the exercise—before, during and after.

The following team structure will be used. [Identify exercise control team organization. Modify the chart below to reflect organization. Specific action sites should be added, such as individual organizations’ EOCs. If one simulation cell is used for all locations, modify the chart accordingly]

Exercise Design Team Structure

Exercise Design Structure

Exercise Design Team – Has the following responsibilities:

  • Responsible for coordinating all exercise planning activities. The Exercise Director will assign exercise tasks and responsibilities, provide guidance, establish timelines and monitor the development process.
  • Responsible for developing the exercise objectives, concepts, scenarios, master scenario events list, exercise messages administrative support requirements, communication methods.

Control Plan – Prepared by the Exercise Design Team and should include:

  • Exercise control and simulation activity management.
  • Provisions for controller/simulator training and briefing.
  • Procedures for monitoring and reporting of exercise activities to include the flow and pace of the exercise.
  • Procedures to track the accomplishment of exercise objectives.
  • Procedures to record the responses of players
  • Procedures for message injection, including the development of ad hoc messages to support exercise objectives.
  • A list of required exercise forms, including instructions for use and preparation.
  • Preparation for the critique.

Evaluation Plan - The Exercise Design Team is responsible for the development of the Evaluation Plan.

The plan should include all evaluation activities that should occur before, during, and after the exercise. Evaluation activities should include but not be limited to the following:

  • Procedures for monitoring and evaluating exercise activities
  • Procedures to track the accomplishment of exercise objectives
  • Procedures to record and evaluate the responses of players
  • Procedures to track message injection, including the development of ad hoc messages to support exercise objectives A list of required exercise forms, including instructions for use and preparation
  • Preparation for the debrief

Player Handbook – The Exercise Design Team is responsible for developing the player handbook.

The player handbook should contain a list of instructions for players and provide information regarding player responsibilities and functions to be performed during the exercise. The handbook should contain but not be limited to the following:

  • Scenario overview
  • Exercise objectives
  • Administrative requirements

Evaluation Team – The Evaluation Team is responsible for the development of the Evaluation Plan.

The plan should include all evaluation activities that should occur before, during, and after the exercise. Evaluation activities should include but not be limited to the following:

  • Exercise evaluation activity management
  • Provisions for evaluator training and briefing
  • Procedures for monitoring and evaluating exercise activities
  • Procedures to track the accomplishment of exercise objectives
  • Procedures to record and evaluate the responses of players
  • Procedures to track message injection, including the development of ad hoc messages to support exercise objectives
  • A list of required exercise forms, including instructions for use and preparation
  • Preparation for the critique

Participant Support Team – The participant support team is responsible for coordinating exercise support activities.

This team works with the other teams to develop consistent staff briefings for the controllers, simulators, evaluators, and participants and develops the player handbook.

The player handbook should contain a list of instructions for players and provide information regarding player responsibilities and functions to be performed during the exercise. The handbook should contain but not be limited to the following:

  • A schedule of player exercise briefings
  • Provisions for review of community or organization plans, policies and procedures
  • Scenario overview
  • Exercise objectives
  • Procedures for preparation of exercise-generated messages, logs, and reports
  • Emergency Operating Center procedures
  • Expected player actions
  • Administrative requirements
  • Recommended pre-exercise training events

Safety and Security

[Describe the safety procedures, if applicable, and the procedure and code to cancel the exercise if an actual emergency occurs. Detail any special security issues involved with the exercise, location, or equipment.]

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Administrative and Logistical Support Requirements

Administrative and logistical support consists of personnel, equipment, supplies and facilities. Administrative and logistical support will be required to support all phases of the exercise, including:

  • Administrative support at exercise locations/action sites
  • Personnel to assist with pre-exercise training registration, training, and packaging of training materials
  • Information on facilities (rooms etc.) for the exercise

Job Aids

[LIST ANY AIDS THAT WILL ASSIST THE DESIGN TEAM.]

  • Provided for key functions and responsibilities for players, facilitator, and evaluators.

Appendix 12: Phase 2, Documentation: Player Handbook

Exercise Name:

Purpose

The purpose of this handbook is to provide the exercise players with the information needed for them to participate in the exercise.

Type of exercise:

Scope

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Concept of Play

The scenario will require the following titles/positions in the exercise:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Assumptions, Artificialities, and Simulations

The assumptions, artificialities, and simulations applicable during the exercise are provided in the following paragraphs.

[The following assumptions are fairly generic; you may modify and/or add specifics for your own exercise.]

Exercise Assumptions

Exercise players will respond in accordance with the existing Emergency Plan. In the absence of applicable plans, procedures or policies, players will be expected to apply individual and/or team initiative to satisfy response requirements.

Coordination of response activities will be required to ensure effective response.

Exercise Artificialities

It is recognized that certain artificialities and constraints will detract from exercise realism. However, exercise players are to accept these artificialities as a means of facilitating the accomplishment of the exercise objectives and performance criteria.

Exercise Simulation

Simulation during this table-top exercise is required to compensate for non-participating organizations, individuals, and units that would actually be deployed in a real-world response. Although simulations may detract from exercise realism, the simulated incidents, messages from and to simulated entities, provide the means to facilitate exercise play and provide for the testing of exercise objectives and performance criteria.

Scenario Narrative

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Reporting

Players should keep staff duty logs, staff officer action logs/reports, minutes from staff meetings, and telephone conversation records.

Administrative Systems

To assist in the conduct of the table-top exercise, the room set up will include name tags, copy of emergency plans, chart paper, office supplies, any required audiovisual equipment, and refreshments for participants. The facilitator will go over logistical details, including location of washrooms prior to the exercise.

Appendix 13: Phase 2, Documentation: Control Plan

Exercise Name: _______________________________________

Purpose and Scope

This plan provides exercise facilitators with guidance concerning procedures and responsibilities for exercise control, simulation, and support.

Overview

Type of exercise: _______________________________________

Exercise date: _________________________________________

Scope

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Scenario Narrative

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Exercise Players and Organizations Participating in Exercise

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Guidelines for Emergency call-off

The facilitator may suspend play or end the exercise at any time when it appears that a real-world emergency may affect exercise play. Participating organizations also have the option of withdrawing any of their players from the exercise at any time to address matters or concerns directly related to their emergency response missions.

Assumptions, Artificialities, and Simulations

The assumptions, artificialities, and simulations applicable during the exercise are provided in the following paragraphs.

[The following assumptions are fairly generic; you may modify and/or add specifics for your own exercise.]

Exercise Assumptions

The following assumptions are made in order to ensure that the exercise is as realistic as possible and that exercise objectives be achieved during exercise play.

  • Players will respond in accordance with the existing Emergency Plan. In the absence of appropriate written instructions, players will be expected to apply individual initiative.
  • Implementation of disaster response plans, policies, and procedures during the exercise will depict actions that would be expected to occur under actual response conditions.
  • Real-world response actions will take priority over exercise actions.

Exercise Artificialities

While the following artificialities and constraints will detract from realism, exercise planners should accept these artificialities as a way to meet exercise objectives.

  • The exercise will be played in near-real time; however, to meet exercise objectives, some events may be played by participants before the exercise, and other events may be accelerated in time.
  • Responses obtained by players from simulations may not be of the quality or detail available from the real organization or individual.
  • During the exercise, actions may occur to direct unit, personnel, or resource deployments, and subsequent movement of resources may be simulated with no live movement occurring in the exercise.

Management Structure

Overall exercise planning, conduct, and evaluation for the exercise is the responsibility of the Exercise Team. The team is responsible for coordinating all exercise planning activities.

Master Scenario Events List Procedures

The exercise will be managed by the Master Scenario Events List (MSEL), the primary document used to manage the exercise, to know when events are expected to occur, and to know when to insert messages into the exercise. All events listed in the MSEL are in chronological sequence.

Time

  • The time is the date and time expected to inject the event into exercise play. For expected player actions, this is the approximate time by which the expected action is to have occurred.

Message/Event

  • Phone or Radio - some messages will be delivered via telephone or radio.
  • Message or Fax - some messages, designed to simulate electronic messages, memoranda, and news bulletins, may be handed to appropriate players at designated times.
  • Video - video may be used for news updates.
  • Player Action - events will be monitored to ensure that players take the required action to maintain the pace of the exercise and to ensure objectives are met.

Expected Action

  • The expected action describes results expected from the MSEL event. It is used by evaluators to determine the effectiveness of an event.

Facilitating the Exercise

After presentation of the scenario, the exercise begins. The focus of the exercise is to test:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Questions to ask the players to begin play and to keep the exercise focused:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Attach a copy of:

  • MSEL
  • Expected actions
  • Major and detailed events
  • Key messages

Appendix 14: Checklist-Control/Simulation Plan

Your Control/Simulation plan should include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Exercise control and simulation activity management.
  • Provisions for controller/simulator training and briefing. Procedures for monitoring and reporting of exercise activities to include the flow and pace of the exercise.
  • Procedures to track the accomplishment of exercise objectives.
  • Procedures to record the responses of players.
  • Procedures for message injections, including the development of ad hoc messages to support exercise objectives.
  • A list of required exercise forms to include instructions for use and preparation.
  • Preparation for the critique.

Appendix 15: Phase 2, Documentation: Evaluation Plan

Exercise Name:


Purpose

This plan provides exercise evaluators, facilitator, and simulators with guidance concerning procedures and responsibilities for exercise evaluation and support.

Play Concept

Overview

Type of Exercise: ________________

Exercise Date: ___________________

Scope

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Scenario Narrative

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Exercise players and organizations participating in exercise

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Assumptions, Artificialities, and Simulations

The assumptions, artificialities, and simulations applicable during the exercise are provided in the following paragraphs.

Exercise Assumptions

The following assumptions are made in order to ensure that the exercise is as realistic as possible and that exercise objectives be achieved during exercise play.

  • Players will respond in accordance with the existing Emergency Plan. In the absence of appropriate written instructions, players will be expected to apply individual initiative.
  • Implementation of disaster response plans, policies, and procedures during the exercise will depict actions that would be expected to occur under actual response conditions.
  • Real-world response actions will take priority over exercise actions.

Exercise Artificialities

While the following artificialities and constraints will detract from realism, exercise planners should accept these artificialities as a way to meet exercise objectives.

  • The exercise will be played in near-real time; however, to meet exercise objectives, some events may be played by participants before the exercise, and other events may be accelerated in time.
  • Responses obtained by players from simulations may not be of the quality or detail available from the real organization or individual.
  • During the exercise, actions may occur to direct unit, personnel, or resource deployments, and subsequent movement of resources may be simulated with no live movement occurring in the exercise.

Exercise Evaluation Team Staffing, Rules, and Procedures

The personnel selected as exercise evaluation team members will need to understand ongoing exercise activities and to be able to track them with events in the MSEL.

Evaluators should be familiar with the following:

  • Purpose and objectives of the exercise
  • MSEL and scenario timeline
  • Content of exercise messages
  • Procedures for monitoring and tracking player actions
  • Procedures for recording observation of player actions
  • Procedures for notifying facilitator of problems and exercise deviations

In this section identify the exercise objectives and evaluator checklists. Points of review should be based on the emergency operations plans, policies, procedures, guidelines, and checklists.

Prior to the exercise, all exercise evaluation documents should be appended to the plan. They may be organized by site location, by function, or any other method as determined by the evaluation team.

Exercise Objectives

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Exercise Evaluation Team Responsibilities

  • Observe the exercise
  • Report what went well and what went poorly
  • Monitor decisions made in the exercise and then report on them

Reporting Procedures

Evaluators may record their observations on paper, or through the use of an Evaluator Reporting Checklist.

Attach a copy of:

  • MSEL
  • Expected actions
  • Major and detailed events
  • Key messages

Appendix 16: Phase 2, Documentation: Evaluation Plan

Evaluator Reporting Checklist

Evaluator: _____________________

Date: _________________________

Location: ______________________

Exercise: ____________________

Objective No.:

  • _________________________
  • _________________________

Objective: _______________________________________


Detailed Event

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Did the participants meet the Expected Action for this event?

Please answer the following:

Y=Yes, N=No, NA=Not Applicable, NO=Not Observed

Expected Actions:

  1. _____________________________ - Y / N / NA / NO
  2. _____________________________ - Y / N / NA / NO
  3. _____________________________ - Y / N / NA / NO
  4. _____________________________ - Y / N / NA / NO

Comments:

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Appendix 17: Phase 3: Checklist-Facilitator Tasks

  • Provide briefings and debriefings for all exercise players which includes coordinating the evaluation of each exercise day by players.
  • Provide exercise inputs in line with the Master Scenario Events List (MSEL).
  • Monitor progress of the exercise as appropriate.
  • Ensure that actions expected from exercise inputs are completed.
  • Ensure the effective delivery of exercise responses by appropriately coaching exercise participants if or when required.
  • Report to the Exercise Planning Team.
  • Resolve problems and/or issues should the exercise go off track at their site, seeking advice from Exercise Planning Team as required.

Appendix 18: Phase 3: Checklist-Facilitator Tasks (Detailed)

The following is a more in-depth, comprehensive Facilitator checklist. Though quite detailed, it can be modified to suit the needs of your particular exercise, its objectives and degree of complexity, and your available resources.

Facilitator’s Checklist

Before the Exercise-Preparing
Steps to Perform
Notes:
Date
  1. Review exercise process to improve your familiarity and comfort level.
  
  1. Review Emergency Plan, procedures,
  2. and other documents needed to support the exercise.
  
  1. Read the exercise materials from
  2. “cover to cover.”
  
  1. Develop intimate knowledge of the
  2. scenario.
  
  1. Review the exercise materials
  2. to ensure a clear understanding of each element of the package.
  
  1. Review purpose. What is driving the training?
  
  1. Review scope. Who is to be involved?When and where is training needed? What are the limitations?
  
  1. Review the objectives.
  
  1. Become familiar with the list of participants and their responsibilities.
  
  1. Review all instructions.
  
  1. Review the scenario including supporting elements.
  
  1. Review timeline of major events and expected actions.
  
  1. Review messages or injects.
  
  1. Review Master Scenario Events List (MSEL), including time for messages to be injected, who delivers messages and to whom and how, expected actions.
  
  1. Review any exercise data, such as maps, photos, audiovisual.
  
  1. Review administrative information.
  
  1. Review logistics information, such as procurement of equipment, materials and supplies, communications, facilities, etc.
  
  1. Review acronyms and definitions used in the exercise.
  
  1. Conduct a mental dry-run of the exercise.
  

Before the Exercise-Preparing

Immediately Before the Exercise-Setting Up
Steps to Perform
Notes:
Date
  1. Ensure that training supplies are available as needed.
  
  1. Post a “Training in Session” sign on the outside of the door.
  
  1. Write the Facilitator name on flipchart paper or blackboard, etc.
  
  1. Write and post the exercise objectives.
  
  1. Arrange the tables, chairs, projector, laptop, etc.
  
  1. Do a sound, equipment, and message transmission check.
  
  1. Ensure that there are sufficient copies of handouts for the exercise, including the Player Handbook.
  
  1. Ensure that several copies of needed documentation, such as procedures and Emergency Plan, are in the room.
  
Immediately Before the Exercise-Setting Up
The Facilitator guides the Players through the exercise activities. Remember to show enthusiasm and create a relaxed environment for all participants.
Day of the Exercise-Completing Administrative Tasks
Steps to Perform
Notes:
Date
  1. Inform participants about the parking policy, smoking policy, locations of restrooms, availability of phones, and locations of emergency exits.
  
  1. Circulate the participant list for signature, and contact information.
  
  1. Review the exercise process.
  
  1. Be aware of the potential for unknowingly influencing players.
  

Day of the Exercise-Completing Administrative Tasks

Day of the Exercise-Conducting the Exercise
Steps to Perform
Notes:
Date
  1. Use clear, appropriate language and terminology.
  
  1. Do not prompt players.
  
  1. Establish hierarchy of control.
  
  1. Set rules for player interaction.
  
  1. Provide adequate supporting information.
  
  1. Present the goal or purpose of the exercise.
  
  1. Present the scope of the exercise.
  
  1. Present the objectives of the exercise.
  
  1. Direct the exercise.
  
  1. Present selected information from the scenario as an introduction to the players. This may be in the form of a briefing or by a news flash, etc.
  
  1. Keep a running log of activities.
  
  1. Set the pace through controlling flow of messages, injects, and discussion among players.
  
  1. Give out information and pre-planned messages.
  
  1. Confirm objectives are achieved.
  
  1. Keep play on track with the MSEL.
  
  1. Be prepared to discuss “on-the-fly” problems.
  
  1. Set clear limits on independent decision making and scenario modifications.
  
  1. Adjust pace to player proficiency.
  
  1. If the expected action is not performed, submit a contingency message.
  
  1. Halt the play according to schedule.
  

Day of the Exercise-Conducting the Exercise

After the Exercise-Conducting the Hot-wash

Steps to Perform

Notes:

Date

Set up flipchart or computer for the post-exercise hot-wash.

  

Assemble all players and evaluators.

  

Encourage participation by all players.

  

Review the objectives of the exercise.

  

Review the purpose of the exercise.

  

Remind participants that lessons learned during the exercise and the hot-wash discussion will be documented and will be incorporated in the After Action Report (AAR), along with the Evaluator comments.

  

What went right? What didn’t?

  

Were the objectives clear? Measurable? Attainable?

  

Were the objectives met?

If not, why?

What is needed to meet the objectives?

If the objectives were met, what improvements are suggested?

  

Did all players understand their roles?

  

How well did the players interact?

  
After the Exercise-Conducting the Hot-wash
Exercise Summary

Steps to Perform

Notes:

Date

1. Sincerely thank team members and observers.

  
Exercise Summary

Appendix 19: Phase 3: Checklist-Evaluator

  • Review evaluation plan and control plan materials. Attend evaluator training.
  • Perform duties under the management of the evaluation team leader at the assigned location.
  • Observe assigned objectives.
  • Monitor player actions and assist the evaluation team leader and other exercise control team members in tracking exercise events.
  • Report to the evaluation team leader any problems or issues that arise concerning control, including deviations from the scenario or exercise artificialities that may interfere with exercise realism or exercise progress, and record these problems in the evaluator log.
  • Provide observations using a key player observation and comment form for input to the exercise evaluation.
  • Attend the end-of-exercise participant debriefings/critiques, and any evaluator debriefings as instructed by evaluation team leader.
  • Review simulator materials and attend training.
  • Perform duties under the management of the [identify title of person] at the assigned location.
  • Answer (if allowed) inquiries from participants for general information, or information concerning Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) events already injected into play, and record inquiry in a log.
  • Record actions and/or decisions on tactical maps, situation status boards, resources status boards, and logs.
  • Assist controllers in monitoring the flow of the exercise and completion of Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) events.
  • Inform evaluation team leader of possible deviations from the Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) and expected actions.
  • Record observations using evaluator checklists provided.
  • Complete summary forms for input to the exercise evaluation report.

Appendix 20: Checklist-Lead Evaluator Tasks

  • Determine the qualifications and experience level of evaluators needed and identify avenues for obtaining them.
  • Design and develop training for the exercise evaluators.
  • Develop procedures for debriefing of players and exercise evaluation team.
  • During the exercise, manage and coordinate activities of the exercise evaluator team to ensure that exercise play achieves exercise objectives.
  • Monitor exercise progress and make decisions regarding any deviations or significant changes to the scenario caused by unexpected developments in the course of play.
  • Coordinate any required modifications to the Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) and supporting event implementers with the appropriate exercise evaluators.
  • Conduct debriefing of exercise evaluation team.
  • Provide observations for input to the exercise evaluation using the key player observation and comment form.
  • Complete routine reports to log exercise events and any special reports, as necessary.
  • Conduct control and simulation debriefings for subordinate controllers/simulators.
  • Chair the post-exercise critique session at assigned location.
  • Attend evaluation team debriefings.

Appendix 21: Checklist-Evaluation Team Tasks

  • Participate in the exercise design team (lead evaluator).
  • Analyze and assess the exercise plan to determine an appropriate evaluation strategy (locations of evaluation, number of evaluations required, roles and responsibilities, etc.).
  • Develop and disseminate the exercise evaluation plan.
  • Establish evaluator communications systems and information support mechanisms.
  • Design and develop the evaluation organization and chain of command.
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of the exercise evaluation team, including evaluation team chiefs and evaluators.
  • Develop policies, guidelines, and procedures for implementing the exercise evaluation plan.
  • Develop the administrative and logistic systems needed for reporting, problem resolution, and safety and site preparation for participating organizations and evaluation organizations.

Appendix 22: Phase 3: Hot-wash

Did we meet the objective(s) that we set out for our exercise?

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

What worked well and why?

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Where can we improve and how?

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Appendix 23: Phase 4: After Action Report (AAR)

Executive Summary

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Note: The “Executive Summary” section is used to briefly describe a summary of the information contained in your After Action Report (AAR) to highlight the way in which the report will help in preparedness and should include the following:

  • Brief overview of the exercise
  • Major strengths demonstrated during the exercise
  • Areas that require improvement

Exercise Overview

Exercise Name:

Duration:

Exercise Date:

Sponsor:

Type of Exercise:

Funding Source:

Focus:

Scenario:

Location:

Participating Organizations:

Participants:

Number of Participants:

Exercise Overview:

Exercise Evaluations:

Note: The “Exercise Overview” section should be used to briefly describe the following:

  • Describes the specific details of the exercise
  • Identifies the organizations that participated in the exercise
  • Describes how the exercise was structured
  • Describes how the exercise was implemented and carried out

Listed above are the details that are required in the AAR “Exercise Overview” section.

Exercise Goals and Objectives

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Note: The “Exercise Goals and Objectives” section is used to briefly list the goals and objectives for the exercise. These are developed during the exercise planning and design phase and are used to define the scope and content of the exercise as well as the organizations that will participate. List each Goal followed by the Objective for the respective Goal.

Exercise Events Synopsis

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Note: The “Exercise Events Synopsis” section is used to provide an overview of the scenario used to facilitate exercise play and the actions taken by the players to respond to the scenario. The activities are presented in the general sequence and timeline that they happened at each site. The events synopsis provides officials and players with an overview of what happened at each location and when. It is also used to analyze the effectiveness of the response, especially the time sensitive actions. It provides a means of looking at the ramifications of one action not happening when expected on actions taken by other players and on the overall response. The “Exercise Events Synopsis” should include the synopsis, the modules for the exercise, and a timeline of events for each element of play.

Objectives-based Evaluations

Identify the changes/improvements needed in your emergency plans and procedures (ERP), if applicable, and any other applicable documents that may be evaluated.

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Did the exercise meet its objectives?

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

(If applicable) Did the exercise:

  • Build on the lessons learned from previous exercises?
  • Enhance the awareness of and educate participants on emergency planning?
  • Allow participants to assess their ability to coordinate responded with other participating organizations?
  • Test the effectiveness of communication protocols and procedures between the EOC(s) and site(s)?
  • Allow you to identify areas in need of improvements in your plans?

Note: This section is used to analyze exercise objectives and design. You may choose to consider the above questions during this process.

Conclusions

________________________________________________

________________________________________________

Note: The “Conclusions” section of the report should be used as a summary of all the sections of the AAR. It should include the following:

  • Participants demonstrated capabilities
  • Lessons learned for improvement and major recommendations

A summary of what steps should be taken to ensure that the concluding results will help to further refine plans, procedures, training for this type of incident

Appendix 24: Phase 5: Improvement Plan

Improvement Plan
Organization:_________________

mprovement Plan

Appendix 25: Phase 5: Corrective Action Plan

Name of Exercise:_________________________
Date:____________________________________

rrective Action Plan

Appendix 26: Exercise Checklist

  • Agree upon the scenario, extent and aim of the exercise with senior management.
  • Assemble a multi-disciplinary exercise planning team and agree the objectives for each area to be exercised.
  • Sketch out and then develop the main events of the exercise and associated timetables.
  • Determine and confirm the availability of outside organizations to be involved, such as the media or voluntary agencies.
  • List the facilities required for the exercise and confirm their availability e.g. transportation, buildings and equipment
  • Ensure that all communications to be used during the exercise have been tested, and in the locations in which they will be used as near to the date of the exercise as possible.
  • Check that evaluators for each stage of the exercise are clearly identified and properly briefed.
  • Ensure that directing staff are clearly identified and properly briefed, and have good independent communications with 'exercise control' throughout the exercise.
  • If the exercise links a number of activities or functions which are dependent on each other, confirm that each has been individually tested beforehand.
  • Ensure that all participants have been briefed.
  • Ensure that all participants are aware of the procedures to be followed if a real emergency occurs during the exercise.
  • If observers are to be invited, including the media, ensure that they are clearly identified and properly looked after, and arrange for them to be kept informed of the progress of the exercise. Ensure their safety.
  • If necessary, such as for a longer exercise, arrange catering and toilet facilities.
  • Ensure that where appropriate outside agencies are indemnified in the event of exercise accident.
  • Warn the local media, emergency services switchboards/controls and any neighbours who might be worried or affected by the exercise. Position "Exercise in Progress" signs if appropriate.
  • Ensure that senior management, controllers and evaluators, and key participants are aware of the time and location for the “hot-wash”, and circulate a timetable for a full debrief.
  • Agree upon and prepare a detailed set of recommendations, each one accompanied by an action addressee and timescale.
  • Prepare a clear and concise summary report of the exercise to distribute to all organizations and groups which took part, together with major recommendations.
  • Discuss with senior management the outcome of the exercise and agree the future exercise program.
  • Thank all personnel and outside agencies which took part.

Appendix 27: 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.

Appendix 28: Exercise Timeline

Below is a sample timeline for an exercise program, followed by a template.

Sample timeline for an exercise program

Exercise Timeline

ercise Timeline for one year

Appendix 29: Organizational Chart-Exercise Planning Team

Example of an Organizational Chart for an Exercise Planning Team

The following is a sample organizational chart for an Exercise Planning Team. Though it presents some of the basic functions of an exercise planning team, it can be modified to suit the needs of your particular exercise, its objectives and degree of complexity, and your available resources.

Note that a more comprehensive organizational chart may be required for larger or full-scale exercises. For example, in addition to the involvement of police, fire, and EMS are part of Operations during an exercise, it may be of interest to you to involve other entities, such as public works and hospitals. For further support to the Planning team, exercise documentation and evaluation may be joined by a simulation team, particularly in larger exercises.

Furthermore, Logistics may be expanded to include transportation, public works, health (ie. food and water), security, and audio/visual, and Finance may be further responsible to address resources and purchasing, as required.

Sample: Organizational Chart-Exercise Planning Team

Sample Organizational Chart - Exercise Planning Team

1 In these Guidelines, the term “community” refers to municipalities and First Nations.