MediaTech Training Promo

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MediaTech, a Centerville, Iowa firm, announces award from the Iowa Department of Education for the procurement of School Meal Programs Reference Library and Web-based Tutorial Development Project, RFP #ED-MH079-01. The contract is expected to extend until at least late 2014.

At this time, Iowa does not have a comprehensive web-based resource for School Food Service personnel to access for guidance regarding the operation of a USDA School Meal Program. New Food Service Directors/Managers must navigate through several websites, manuals, and memoranda, all of which are not available in one central location. Currently, the Department offers a number of on-site and webinar training workshops around the state of Iowa to train new staff, update existing staff, and release guidance regarding new USDA School Meal Program regulations. These training opportunities are often not available on demand, and may only occur one time per school year. The comprehensive web-based reference library will provide a reliable resource, accessible at any time. In an effort to improve efficiency and efficacy of trainings, the Department seeks to develop web-based instructional tutorials. These tutorials will provide enhanced learning experiences, expanding upon reference library information. Additionally, the SA will have the ability to test comprehension and monitor completion as requirements for new Food Service Directors/Managers or as a component of Corrective Action.

See original RFP here

Thanks to everyone that stopped by our booth at the 10th Annual Iowa Homeland Security Conference

Thank you to everyone that stopped by our booth at the 10th Annual Iowa Homeland Security Conference. Please contact us for any follow up questions or information.

VTT Zombie Apocalypse

Tabletop Exercise Design – Determine Objectives

An objective is a description of the performance you expect from participants to demonstrate competence. Objectives go hand in hand with the purpose statement but are more specific and performance based.

Objectives drive every phase of the exercise process from design to followup.

How Are Objectives Determined?

Many objectives become evident at the time of the needs assessment, when designers identify problem areas.  These needs can usually be translated into a statement of objectives.

Suppose your last exercise showed weaknesses in alert and notification, specifically a failure on the part of the EOC to analyze and implement call-down procedures.  One of the resulting objectives would be to verify that the EOC is now able to notify the proper agencies according to the plan.

Objectives are also arrived at by breaking down a purpose statement into its logical components.

How Many Objectives?

There can be as few as two or three objectives in a small exercise, or as many as 100 in a large national exercise including many Federal, State, and local jurisdictions.  For an average exercise, 10 or fewer objectives are recommended.

What Makes a “Good” Objective?

The main thing to remember about objectives is that they must be clear, concise, and focused on participant performance.  They should contain:

  • An action, stated in observable terms.
  • The conditions under which the action will be performed.
  • Standards (or level) of performance.

In other words, an objective should state who should do what under what conditions according to what standards.

Tabletop Exercise Design – Purpose Statement

Creston, IA Oil Spill

The purpose statement is a broad statement of the exercise goal that focuses and controls the whole exercise.

The purpose statement:

  • Governs the selection of the objectives, which in turn governs subsequent steps.
  • Clarifies for the chief executive and potential participants why the exercise is being conducted.
  • Is useful in communicating plans to the media and community leaders.

A purpose statement is easily constructed by incorporating the scope decisions (type of emergency, location, functions, organizations, and exercise type) into a single sentence.  Location and date are usually added before distributing the purpose statement as an exercise directive.


The purpose of the proposed emergency management exercise is to improve the coordination between city and county government, volunteer organizations, and private industry in their response to a major incident; to assess current plans, policy and procedures; and to enhance interagency cooperation by involving the following department or agency heads:

  • Justice County Commissioner
  • Mayor of Liberty
  • Liberty Emergency Manager
  • Liberty Fire Chief
  • Liberty Police Chief
  • Justice County PIO
  • HazMat Team Liaison
  • Liberty Petrochemical, Inc.
  • Poison Control Center
  • The American Red Cross
  • Liberty Hospital

in a tabletop exercise involving a major hazardous materials transportation accident on June 15, at the County Emergency Operations Center at 3012 SW Mail Road near SW Johnston Boulevard.

Tabletop Exercise Design – Defining Scope

Ft. Madison, IA:  Windshear Damage

A needs assessment may reveal a wide array of concerns.  Clearly you can’t design an exercise that effectively practices:

  • All functions. . .
  • In the context of all hazards. . .
  • Using all agencies, organizations, or departments. . .
  • In all exercise formats. . .
  • Employing all resources.

You will need to set priorities and make choices.  It is important that the scope be clearly and narrowly defined.

There are five key elements of scope: type of emergency, location, functions, participants, and exercise type.  The decisions you make for each of these elements define your scope.

Type of Emergency

An exercise is usually limited to one major event, although other secondary events might develop as the scenario unfolds.  Hazards may be chosen for several reasons, including:

  • The emergencies that will generate the types of actions that need to be practiced.
  • The highest priority hazards that the organization faces.
  • The hazards that haven’t been exercised recently.
  • Problems that have just recently developed.


Identify the location (a specific address) where the simulated event will occur.  For tabletop exercises, select a place where the participant’s response could realistically occur, such as in the EOC.


List the operations that the participants will practice.  Be sure that the procedures within a certain function are clear and narrowly defined.  For example, to exercise a community’s alert warning system, the following actions might be specified:

Exercise Alert Warning System

  1. Notify the warning agency.
  2. Turn on sirens.
  3. Notify fire or police to use loud speakers in area.
  4. Notify Emergency Alert System (EAS) to interrupt programming with message.


After the most important functions or needs have been identified, you can narrow the list of participating organizations and individuals to those that are required to carry out the actions.

Ask yourself: Which organizations need to be involved to carry out the function(s) being tested?  Which representatives from the identified organizations should be there?

For example, for a tabletop exercise in an EOC or other operations center, you would typically want policy makers, coordinators, and operations personnel.  On the other hand, for a tabletop in an Incident Command Post, you would most likely want personnel who are knowledgeable in field operations and have some on-scene decision-making authority.