What is an Exercise?

What is an Exercise?

An exercise is a focused practice activity that places participants in a simulated situation requiring them to function in the capacity that would be expected of them in a real event.  Its purpose is to promote preparedness by testing policies and plans and training personnel.

Exercises are conducted to evaluate an organization’s capability to execute one or more portions of its response plan or contingency plan. Many successful responses to emergencies over the years have demonstrated that exercising pays huge dividends when an emergency occurs.

In a comprehensive program, exercises build upon one another to meet specific operational goals. The aim is to provide competence in all emergency functions.

There are five main types of activities in a comprehensive exercise program:

  • Orientation seminar – An overview or introduction designed to familiarize participants with roles, plans, procedures, or equipment
  • Drill – A coordinated, supervised exercise activity normally used to test a single specific operation or function.
  • Tabletop exercise  A facilitated analysis and guided discussion of an emergency situation.
  • Functional exercise – A fully simulated interactive exercise that tests the capability of an organization to respond to a simulated event.
  • Full-scale exercise  Designed to evaluate the operational capability of emergency management systems in a highly stressful environment that simulates actual response conditions

These activities build from simple to complex, from narrow to broad, from least expensive to most costly to implement, from theoretical to realistic.  When carefully planned to achieve specified objectives and goals, this progression of exercise activities provides an important element of an integrated emergency preparedness system.

What Makes a “Good” Learning 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.