To ensure employees and response personnel are prepared to respond to an incident in an efficient and effective manner, companies must perform emergency response exercises. The goal of these exercises is to test and reinforce response plan procedures. Developing accurate and applicable emergency scenarios allows responders to identify potential threats and test their response to specific emergencies.Exercises programs should:
- Provide realistic scenarios
- Validate training comprehension
- Decipher emergency planning effectiveness
- Identify necessary action items
- Define operational response capabilities and preparedness level
Drill and Exercise Scenarios
The Department of Homeland Security addresses four types of exercise or drill scenarios used in risk management and emergency planning:
1. Basic Scenario: Provides basic information about one specific variable or risk, such as internal or external hazard, attack type, or potential target. Scenarios can be used to establish response parameters and instructions based on a singular applicable variable (Ex: tank 101 fire or leak at a loading dock).
2. Narrative Scenario: Story-like, highly detailed scenarios with many fixed factors. Narrative drills are typically used for planning purposes rather than risk analysis. Narratives identify characteristics of a scenario, detailed background information, and each component of the scenario.
3. Visual Modeling: Highly structured scenarios that display multiple potential variables of an emergency situation. Depending on the level of detail, visual models can become highly comprehensive and complex. The Department of Homeland Security identifies three methods of visual planning: attack paths, fault trees and event trees.
Attack paths: A systematic method that examines the sequence of events that occurred prior to the incident.
Fault trees: A detailed, deductive tool is used to assess the ill-fated sequence of events that led to the incident. A fault tree highlights potential hazards and ineffective processes.
Event trees: Assess the components it takes to respond and recover from an incident. Event trees highlight the necessary planning initiatives required to counteract the incident.
4. Future Scenario: Speculative narratives that consider how trends, such as social media usage or global warming, will impact future risks. This scenario can be used to identify “future-state” planning strategies against a range of alternative risk possibilities.