The Community Safety & Security Consultants collaborates with corporate facilities, school districts and local public safety and emergency response agencies to choose a scenario that is most likely to occur in the community and thereby involve all community resources that would be affected by the emergency. Exercises are conducted to identify weaknesses in the Emergency Management Plan, and corrective actions are designed to improve performance during an actual response.
A tabletop exercise tests the procedures outlined in an emergency management plan by informally walking through a hypothetical emergency. The participants—usually decision makers from the facility or school and local response agencies—gather around a table to discuss general problems and procedures in the context of an emergency scenario. The purpose is to resolve issues identified through the exercise. Tabletop exercises are conducted in a low-stress environment and require a modest commitment in terms of time, cost, and resources. On the other hand, they do not provide a true test of an emergency management plan’s capabilities.
A functional exercise is an interactive exercise that is similar to a full-scale exercise without the equipment. In the most realistic manner possible, short of moving real people and equipment to an actual site, a functional exercise tests the effectiveness of one or more functions in a response plan. Functional exercises test policy, coordination, and operations personnel. The players in the exercise respond in a realistic way to carefully planned and sequenced messages given to them by simulators. The messages reflect ongoing events and problems that might occur in a real emergency.
A full-scale exercise simulates a real event as closely as possible. It is designed to evaluate the coordination among emergency response agencies and a facility or school in an environment that simulates actual response conditions. It requires the mobilization and actual movement of emergency personnel, equipment, and resources. A full-scale exercise should test and evaluate most functions of an emergency management plan.
The preparation for a full-scale exercise requires time, planning, effort, and resources. It often takes a few months or more to develop a complete exercise package. Prior to a large-scale exercise, schools must plan and stage drills, tabletop, and functional exercises to prepare for the staged full-scale exercise. In addition, personnel and equipment from participating agencies must be committed for a prolonged period of time.