The purpose of drills and exercises is to test procedures on which people have already been trained.

Talking through scenarios can also be a good way to develop plans and procedures, but these should not be considered exercises. Once procedures are developed and employees have been familiarized with them, an exercise can ensure that they can be implemented in an emergency.

Create a scenario and talk it through with your employees. For example, what would happen if a tornado hit your facility.

Test capabilities. Do they know where the shelter location is at work? Are they following the role that they were assigned in training? Would this be a good plan if this actually took place?

  • Go over any suggestions anyone has—the more input the better!

  • Use the tabletop or drill to really understand what additional actions should be added to your plans.

  • Have participants examined, discuss, and resolve problems based on existing operational plans and identify where those plans need to be refined.

  • Create an After Action Report and share it with participants. Consider having your local EmergencyManager look over the report.

  • Create a corrective action plan based on lessons learned in the test, and implement it.

  • Look at your team, after a tabletop or a drill you might consider changing roles of necessary; you want the employees in a role that they are good at and that they understand.


After an exercise, be sure to give participants a chance to give feedback and capture any suggestions or lessons learned—and then make changes to the procedures based on that feedback. The most common failure in an exercise program is not adapting procedures to reflect lessons learned.