Developing Organizational Resilience Through Emergency Management – Part 6


What is an Emergency Exercise?

An Emergency Exercise is a simulated scenario with the objective to exercise or test response capabilities of an organization. This includes testing emergency plans and procedures to identify any gaps to improve upon.

Emergency exercises have different formats including:

Discussion based

  •  Tabletop Exercises
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Games


Operations based

  • Drills
  • Functional Exercises
  • Full-Scale Exercises

Both formats are valuable to an organization depending on their needs and capacities. It is important to initiate the emergency exercise design with a clear objective in consideration with the needs of the organization.

Initiating an Emergency Exercise

The Emergency Management Committee will be responsible for the development of the Emergency Exercise. During this time the committee should critically evaluate the organization and determine what should be tested/exercised. In some cases, there could be a new plan that needs to be tested, pick a specific aspect of the plan to test and how it relates to the overall objective(s).

Not all hazards or plans can be tested at once so manage the scope of what is being tested efficiently. Determine the scope of the exercise, including the limitations, and what hazards specifically need to be tested. Determine what organizational functions are going to be tested and who exactly needs to be involved in the exercise.

It may be valuable to produce a purpose statement identifying all the details of the emergency exercise and a high-level overview of what is being tested. Send this out to all parties required for the exercise so that they have an opportunity to ask questions before the event.

Designing the Exercise

An emergency exercise is most effective when it has an immersive narrative that involves all participants. Here are some questions to ask yourself when designing a narrative:

  • What is the event?
  • How fast, strong, deep, or dangerous is the emergency
  • How was the information relayed?
  • What response has already been made?
  • What damages have been reported?
  • What is the sequence of events?
  • What time did it happen?
  • Was there any advanced warning?
  • Where does the event take place?
  • What are the weather conditions?
  • What other factors would influence emergency procedures?
  • What is predicted for the future?

To progress the exercise a list of injections should be developed. These injections signal major events throughout the exercise that progress the narrative and motivate participants to respond. The injections should be creative and realistic in the context of the organization, and challenge participants to work cooperatively when responding. Ensure that a surplus of injections are made, use the important ones and have extras if participants require a greater challenge.

Conducting the Exercise

Prior to the start of the exercise, prepare a presentation for all participants to debrief them on the objectives, scenario, and any teams as necessary. Allot some time at the end for any questions before formally initiating the exercise.

Emergency exercises are an opportunity for improvement so work with all staff to support them throughout the exercise. Ensure that notes are made throughout the exercise as they will be used during the final debrief and in the after-action report.

Benefits of an Emergency Exercise

Emergency exercises are a valuable resource when conducted annually for any organization. They provide ample opportunity for associates to collaboratively solve problems and learn about their respective roles and responsibilities.

Following emergency exercises there is an opportunity to make improvements through a process of an after action report and a corrective action plan. Designed to identify gaps in the organization and clear steps for improvement(s).


If you have any questions or require assistance in initiating your CCP, contact LRI Technical Consultants for support @ or visit our website at

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