Training and Multiple Levels of Exercises in Emergency Management
Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) departments are required to, conduct and document response training and exercises to satisfy industry-specific regulations. Training and exercises should enhance specialized skills and knowledge to improve overall preparedness. Exercises and training are separate, yet coordinated methods that come together to achieve this common objective.
Training: an individual instructional component or instructor-led classroom-based activity with a focus on individual knowledge development sufficient to perform specific roles and undertake prescribed responsibilities.
Exercise: the activity of practicing roles, responsibilities, and/or procedures with a focus on development of individual skills and/or to test and identify deficiencies in plans and procedures.
Company emergency managers should aim to create an efficient method to track individual training needs and identify team members’ current qualifications. Through proper maintenance of a training portal, individuals will remain at peak optimal response capabilities. Training should include, but not be limited to:
- Familiarization with Response Plan
- Individual roles and responsibilities.
- Plan review training whenever a substantial change or revision is made to the plan that affects organization, procedures, roles and responsibilities, or response capability.
- Refresher courses, as necessary
Training may include general employees at the first responder awareness level to the hazardous material specialist or incident commander level. Each company site may require specialized training depending on the current operations, location, and associated regulations.
The goal of the exercise program should be to improve the overall readiness and capabilities of emergency response program that encourages:
- Realistic scenarios
- Proper training validation
- Effective emergency plans
- Identification of action items
- Operational response capabilities
- Preparedness to respond to incidents, regardless of the threat or hazard.
To ensure employees and response personnel are prepared to respond to an incident in an efficient and effective manner, exercise guidelines should be established as minimum requirements within an emergency preparedness program. Management should ensure that:
- All aspects of response plans are exercised annually with participation of the appropriate response, incident management, and support teams.
- Each response plan component is exercised at more frequent intervals, as appropriate, to prepare for the main annual exercise.
- Notification exercises for each team and response component are verified and practiced at least twice per year. This exercise should involve unannounced checks of the communication procedures, , equipment, and contact information.
- National and local training and exercise requirements should be used to assess the overall preparedness of your response teams.
Companies should utilize the following full range of exercise activities in planning and executing the exercise program
Level 1 Tabletop Exercises: Useful for considering policy issues, and for building team relationships in a low stress environment.
- Practice application of National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS)
- Demonstrate a functional understanding of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and Incident Management Team (IMT) organizations.
- Practice integration of Unified Common organization(s), and general responsibilities and expectation of the company
- Demonstrate the ability to document and communicate actions, management decision, and track resources, using standardized Incident Command System (ICS) forms and the Emergency response Plan (ERP)
Level 2 Mobilization and/or Notification Exercise: Used to validate mobilization and response times, and verify internal/external notifications and contact information.
- Practice and assess specific functional response elements
- Validate response contractor equipment deployment response times
- Practice and validate specific response procedures and locations
Level 3 Limited Exercises: Used to validate mobilization and response capabilities of specific team functions, and the status of integration and coordination among these groups and other company-based response organizations.
- One or more teams
- Optional external involvement
- Scenario presented through both written materials and limited role-playing by simulators
Level 4 Full Scale Exercise: Full-scale exercises offer comprehensive validation of current emergency and crisis management system, and should demonstrate a degree of response integration throughout the system.
- Expanded demonstration Crisis Management and Emergency Response capabilities
- Promotes extensive comprehensive coordination and integration of capabilities
- Maximize realism for participants with multiple realistic injects
- Extensive use of controllers to ensure the exercise activity remains within intended parameters and to coordinate the scenario among multiple sites