General Exercise Development

Simple exercises can be created by a single person.  A more complex exercise should be developed by a group of individuals.  For operations-based exercises:

  • Determine the scope – What areas/staff will participate? Will the exercise use actors or paper patients? How much of the procedure will be actioned (i.e. move actor/patients or simulate)? Note: To count for the annual requirement some actions must be taken.
  • Define capabilities and/or response procedures/plans to be tested (i.e. Severe Weather response). What hazard/emergency will be used to trigger the response?
  • Determine the objectives of the exercise (i.e. Evaluate the ability of staff to prepare all rooms for severe weather according to the Severe Weather response plan within 15 minutes).
  • Develop the scenario based on the hazard to be used (i.e. tornado) and the objectives. Sample Scenarios
  • Determine the evaluation criteria for the exercise (i.e. the curtains were closed in all rooms within 15 minutes).
  • Set a time and date for the exercise. (Consider outside of business hours.  There may be different challenges with resources, staffing, etc.)
  • Identify who will run the exercise (Exercise Director) and who will evaluate the exercise (Evaluator).  Both these individuals should not participate in the exercise play.  Additional personnel, such as Controllers or Safety Officers, may be needed to help manage a larger exercise.
  • Identify critical actions that impact the next steps in the procedure being tested and develop injects needed to prompt action. An inject is a prompt that can be provided by controllers to ensure that staff take appropriate action.  Example of  injects that could be provided by a controller to a player:
    • Your manager called and asked you if your unit has moved all patients and visitors into interior rooms as a tornado has been reported just west of US 52. (prompts patient/visitor movement)
    • A staff member comes and reports that a visitor/staff member is not accounted for.   (prompts roll call of all staff/visitors/patients)

Items to note:

Safety: Ensure that the safety of exercise participants is maintained and that actual patient care is not interrupted.

Actors: If actors are being used, the following items should be considered:

  • Moulage (makeup to simulate injuries)
  • Patient Information (i.e., ambulatory patient attached to IV, ambulatory patient with high blood pressure, fall risk patient with broken arm, blind visitor)
  • Actor Waiver Form
  • Sample-Actor-Instructions

Tabletop (Discussion-Based) Exercise Tools

The following tools are provided to assist areas with facilitating work area level discussion-based (tabletop) exercises to improve emergency and disaster preparedness and response.  Tabletop exercises are useful to evaluate new or revised plans to identify gaps before conducting an exercise implementing them. (This type of exercise does not meet all accreditation requirements.)  Work areas are encouraged to modify the examples provided below to meet work area needs.

Severe Winter Weather



Loss of HVAC

For further information, please see the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) webpage.

December 2023


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