Emergency Management Exercises


Exercises help build preparedness for threats and hazards by providing a low-risk, cost-effective environment to:

  • Test and validate plans, policies, procedures and capabilities;
  • Identify resource requirements, capability gaps, strengths, areas for improvement, and potential best practices;
  • They help us be prepared. 

The Yavapai County Office of Emergency Management uses the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) as the set of advising principles for our exercise programs.  This allows for a common approach for overall program design and improvement.

We do this through Discussion and Operations Based Exercises: 

Discussion Based Exercises


Type of Exercise Participant Goals Conduct Characteristics Exercise Outcomes

Seminar -Seminars orient participants to or provide an overview into strategies, plans, policies, or procedures. Seminars can be valuable when an entity is developing new plans or making changes to existing plans or procedures.

  • Orient participants to new or existing plans, policies, or procedures
  • Research or assess interagency capabilities or inter-jurisdictional operations
  • Construct a common framework of understanding
  • Causal atmosphere
  • Minimal time constraints
  • Lecture-based
Workshop -Workshops are more structured than seminars. Participant attendance and collaboration from relevant stakeholders is essential to obtain consensus and produce effective plans, procedures, and agreements.
  • Develop a written product as a group, in coordinated activities
  • Obtain consensus
  • Collect or share information


  • Broad attendance by relevant stakeholders
  • Conducted based on clear objectives/goals
  • More participant discussion than lecture-based seminar
  • Frequently uses break-out sessions to explore parts of an issue with similar groups
  • Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs)
  • Mutual Aid Agreements
  • Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs)

Tabletop Exercise (TTX) -Tabletop exercises facilitate conceptual understanding, identify strengths, and areas for improvements, and/or achieving changes in perceptions. Participants are encouraged to problem-solve together through in-depth discussion. An effective TTX comes from active participants and their assessment of recommended revisions to current plans, policies, and procedures. It is important to have a facilitator that will keep the participants focused on the exercise objectives.

  • Enhance general awareness
  • Enhance roles and responsibility understanding
  • Validate plans and procedures
  • Rehearse concepts and/or assess types of systems in a defined incident
  • Requires an experienced facilitator
  • In-depth discussion
  • Low stress, problem-solving environment
Game -A simulation of operations that often involves two or more teams, usually in a competitive environment, using rules, data, and procedures designed to depict an actual or hypothetical situation. Identifying critical decision-making points is a major factor in the success of games.
  • Explore decision-making processes and consequences
  • Conduct "what-if" analyses of existing plans
  • Evaluate existing and potential strategies
  • No actual resources used
  • Often involves two or more teams
  • Includes models and simulations on increasing complexity as the game progresses
  • May include pre-scripted messages



Operations Based Exercise


Operations-based goals Operations-based conduct Exercise Outcomes
Validate plans, policies, agreements, and procedures.

Site setup

  • Done by the planning team the day before conduct
  • Can be in an indoor or outdoor venue

Site setup may include:

  • Response Route - routes to the simulated incident
  • Response Area - location of exercise activities
  • Assembly Area - location of deployable resources participating in the exercise
  • Observer/Media Area - designated viewing area
  • Simulation Cell - location generating scenario injects
  • Registration - to ensure only authorized personnel are allowed on scene
  • Parking
Clarify roles and responsibilities, and identify resource gaps and improvement opportunities.

Exercise briefings

  • Educate participants in their roles and responsibilities
  • Provide safety information to all personnel
  • Vary among roles (controllers, evaluators, players, and actors)
  • Explain exercise play rules (which vary for each exercise)


Exercise play