Traditional table top exercise are often not localized to the client’s environment or capable of realistically challenging the participants. They rarely include video or actual images of the “threat” or the “response”. These types of cookie-cutter exercise generally have a scenario that is generic, esoteric threats and warm, fuzzy, feel good outcomes.
In a recent half day discussion based exercise that I facilitated, the client wanted to practice the Emergency Operations Center Response Plan. The scenario began with an emergency event and would involved the need for public information as well as community notification. The following “news cast” was created and used to deliver injects into the table top exercise after the immediate response section
Consider adding mock video news casts to your next exercise. Everyone playing will see how immediate the need can be to delivery a message to the public. Also, misinformation, which this news clip had, has to be picked up on and addressed.
Video also is a great way to transition into the next part of the exercise. In this video example, the “media” is reporting on real-world conditions as observed in the public eye. Typically, three or four news casts are played during an exercise. The first delivers pre-event information that players need to know. The second announce the event. The third relays current conditions and the fourth sets the discussion up for the recovery phase.
A customized table top exercise that truly adds value to the players ability to manage a crisis must stay away from these one-size fits all pitfalls and focus on your real threats, actual resources and organizational capabilities. Time is very precious with your emergency management team, enhance the experience by customizing the scenario, adding media and practicing your plan.