By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, MEP, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission, and Chair, IAEM-Global Communications Work Group
Last month we began a new discussion on the topic of Exercises and Tests with a focus on Exercise Design and with an emphasis on the “building-block approach” to the emergency management exercise program. This month we will focus on exercise design.
NFPA 1600 does not specify how to design and develop exercises. It does say, “The Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP) provides a guide for designing, developing, and evaluating various types of exercises designed to assess the maturity of program plans, procedures, and strategies.” The FEMA Independent Study course (IS-120a - An Introduction to Exercises) also goes into detail on how to design and develop exercises.
According to IS 120a, “Exercise design begins with “assessing exercise needs” through a process called a “needs assessment. The needs assessment identifies the:
Based on the results of our needs assessment, we then move on to develop the design elements of our exercise.
The four key elements in the design of an exercise are the scope, purpose, objective, and scenario. These design elements apply to discussion- and operations-based exercises.
As for the previous standards, this one too does not describe how to do all of this. Therefore, we need to review various FEMA Independent Study Courses related to the activities that make up preparedness and communication, such as IS-120a An Introduction to Exercises for the core questions. USA candidates should also review the Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP) documents.
The application process for both the CEM® and the AEM® does not require the candidate to address Exercises and Tests specifically as one of the required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) components for the emergency management essay. However, it does require discussion of Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation activities. In addition, candidates may choose Exercises and Tests as a key component of their Problem Statement and write about that (covering all the KSAs).
Here are two core-type questions for our analysis in this article.
1. There are four design elements used for creating an emergency management exercise. Which of the following design elements provides the storyline that drives the exercise?
This question is asking you to understand the different exercise design elements. Specifically, it is asking which design element provides the storyline. By definition, the only one that does this is the scenario. Therefore, the correct response is c. See IS 120.a.
2. Our needs assessment indicated the local hazard materials team recently received new equipment and updated their standard operating procedures. Which one of the following exercise objectives supports the jurisdiction’s needs and follows the SMART format?
a. Assess the capability of the jurisdiction to respond to an unknown chemical release.
b. Assess the capability of the local hazardous material team to detect, identify, monitor, and respond to the effects of an unknown chemical release.
c. Detect, identify, monitor, and respond to the effects of an unknown chemical release occurring at 2:00 a.m.
d. Detect, identify, monitor, and respond to the effects of a chlorine chemical release occurring at the regional water treatment plant.
This question is asking you to understand how strong and effective exercise objectives are written to support the needs assessment. Here we learned the local hazardous materials team received new equipment and updated their procedures. So we should exercise the team, their equipment, and their procedures. On inspection, the four responses all appear to follow the SMART format, but do they include all the elements and support our needs assessment?
Reviewing the four choices, we see that a specifies the jurisdiction. Though the local hazardous materials team is part of the jurisdiction, this is not specific enough (task- oriented) to support our needs assessment. Choice b does contain all the required components and is probably the correct response.
Choice c includes many of the elements, but it does not mention the local hazardous materials team. Choice d is even more specific than choice c, but again it does not provide the task orientation our needs assessment indicates. Therefore, the correct response is b. See IS 120.a.
When reading the questions and responses, be sure you understand exactly what the question is asking of you, and read each response before selecting the correct one.
Next month we continue our discussion on Exercises and Tests, with a focus on exercise development. We also will analyze some practice exam questions. As usual, please send any questions you have about the examination or the certification process to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will address them in future articles.
IAEM Bulletin, June 2017
AEM® and CEM® are registered trademarks of the International Association of Emergency Managers.