Exercises are one of the most important parts of the emergency preparedness and response cycle. There are many types of exercises that you can conduct to be ready for disaster, ranging from discussion-based to full-scale exercises.
The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) notes that “Exercises play a vital role in preparedness. Exercises bring together and strengthen the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from all hazards. Overall, exercises help the whole community address the priorities established by a jurisdiction’s/organization’s leaders; and evaluate progress towards meeting preparedness goals.”
ReadyZoneHQ (RZHQ) follows HSEEP doctrine, which uses a common methodology for planning and conducting exercises as part of a comprehensive exercise cycle. The process includes the following elements:
The design and development of exercises typically takes place over the course of three to six months. In fact, more complex exercises can take more than one year to plan. RZHQ works with organizations to identify a core exercise planning team of key stakeholders that support the entire emergency preparedness planning process, including identification and development of exercise objectives, scenario design, review of exercise documentation, and coordination of logistics where appropriate. RZHQ focuses on developing realistic and challenging exercises that test an organization’s plans and procedures while engaging participants throughout the exercise.
The length of exercise play depends on the type and scope of the exercise, as well as the exercise objectives. The RZHQ team has supported the conduct of hundreds of exercises ranging from a few hours to a few weeks of exercise play. RZHQ uses proven processes and detailed checklists to ensure the efficient and effective conduct of exercises.
RZHQ provides experienced evaluators with extensive subject matter expertise to assess performance against exercise objectives and identify and document strengths and areas for improvement relative to the core capabilities selected for evaluation by the exercise planning team.
During improvement planning, RZHQ supports the development of a comprehensive improvement plan with actionable items that key exercise stakeholders identify. RZHQ can also support tracking corrective actions to completion in the months following the conclusion of an exercise. Organizations must often identify these improvement plans and corrective actions to qualify for numerous grant programs. Organizations can also use improvement plans and corrective actions to justify necessary funds for people, process, and technology improvements.
RZHQ’s HSEEP-certified experts use proven project planning methodologies to ensure that exercises are developed quickly and efficiently. RZHQ leverages best practices/lessons learned from recent, relevant exercises/disasters, and incorporates the latest relevant exercise guidance/standards.
The exercise was a Functional Exercise that took place over three days at the organization’s alternate Department Operations Center (DOC) as part of the state’s annual Makani Pahili hurricane exercise. RZHQ designed and developed the exercise over the course of a six-month period with members of the department’s exercise planning team. The exercise successfully enabled participants to assess their policies as they pertained to the coordination of public health tasks and activities during the post-landfall response to a hurricane scenario.