I had an interesting conversation with an Emergency Management professional new to his role. He asked me:
“Do I have to exercise a hazard that my crew has recently and successfully responded to during a real-life event?”
We chatted about post evaluation of the real-life incident and both agreed that if possible, emergency exercises should be based on a learning opportunity, not just exercising for the mere purpose of ticking a box. Using me as a sounding board he then thought about the aim and objectives for his next exercise. I asked the question “What were the aim and objectives of the last exercise?” He replied that he located a one page scenario with a number of injects. Great, that’s a start. “Is there any paperwork outlining an evaluation of the exercise?” An awkward silence and then a response of “Not that I can find.”
Most emergency managers will agree that an exercise designed, managed and evaluated within a nominated structure improves the likelihood of a positive learning experience for all those involved. Why is it often the case that the evaluation of exercises is either not conducted, stored correctly, or reviewed prior to the following exercise?
Asking the questions post exercise: What did we plan to do? What did we achieve? Why did it happen? What can be done in the future? Will help in making recommendations to improve prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Recording the findings within a post exercise evaluation report will also help to ensure following exercises are not repetitive and provide the opportunity to test gaps.
The Australian Emergency Management Handbook series Managing Exercises Handbook 3 is a great reference guide for Exercise Evaluation. It can be located at http://www.ag.gov.au/EmergencyManagement/Tools-and-resources/Publications/Documents/Handbook-series/handbook-3-managing-exercises.pdf
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James has over 21 years experience in the policing, training, higher education, security and risk management fields. Formerly a founding Director of Emergency and Incident Management Services (EIMS), James is currently the Director Training and Development at FutureWest Institute.
FutureWest Institute (RTO 41184) conducts a nationally accredited training course in Design, Manage and Evaluate Exercises http://www.futurewest.com.au/design-manage-and-evaluate-exercises-course.html James and the team would be only too happy to help you with any emergency management advice you may need.