Emergency preparedness training exercises are extremely important for every organization – whether your employees are on-site, on the road or remote.

Training is a vital part of the emergency preparedness process and helps employees protect themselves during an emergency.

To get the most out of training, emergency preparedness managers need to be strategic when building the training team. The common misconception is that only company leaders or department heads should be training exercise team members.

There are several key roles that every team should have. Identifying and staffing these roles should be done ahead of the exercise so they have time to understand their role and be more capable of participating during the training.

It’s also important that everyone’s insights and feedback are collected and incorporated back into the exercise.

Building The Training Exercise Team

During a recent AlertFind webinar, business continuity expert Bob Clark said there are three key  training exercise team members the emergency preparedness manager should recruit: observer(s), scribe, and videographer.

  • Observers. The observers watch and make notes. “At the end of the day, they can comment. They’ll have a brief, of course, but they can report back in terms of where they saw the plan working well, any particular concerns that they had, anything that went disastrously wrong, and so on,” Clark said. “Observers could be someone from within the organization or someone completely independent.”
  • Scribe. You also need a scribe, who will document everything that is seen and said in a way that they can repeat back to the emergency preparedness manager and put into proper context.
  • Videographer. The videographer can be different from the scribe or complementary to that role with the goal of capturing specific areas or points of view that the scribe may not be able to physically cover. High-quality audio is essential, Clark noted, particularly during live events.

“During a live event, record the event from an audio perspective. And whatever decisions are made – it doesn’t matter who makes them – make sure there is a record of it. It’s all about when you look back at the later days and say, ‘Why on Earth did they do that? Why didn’t they follow the plan?’ ”

Clark added that an an engaged emergency preparedness team key goal is to iron out any wrinkles in the plan.

“It’s not intended to be a witch hunt. It’s about making sure that the plan has fit the purpose and if not, to understand where there are holes,” Clark said. “Ultimately, it will go back to the author … to take another look at the plan or revamp the strategies.”

Once you identify the issues, Clark added, fixing them is the next step, which may involve redrafting the plan. “Until you do that, everything that follows it is likely to be wrong.”

Training Exercise Feedback

Feedback is essential for any training exercise to be effective. Immediately following the training exercise – whether it’s a tabletop, walkthrough or a live event – ask participants for their feedback rather than for their recommendations. Clark said follow up about two weeks later with what he’d call “the cold debrief.”

“You need to give people the opportunity to cool off and look at things and determine if they see things in a different way after they’ve cooled off,” Clark said.

And while you may be seeking feedback from key participants, like department managers or third parties, it should all be considered and the most frequent and insightful responses can be used in future training exercises and planning.

For more information on how to implement emergency preparedness training programs, visit here for AlertFind’s recent zombie training webinar with business continuity expert Bob Clark.

Watch The Webinar