Plan it, but don't be concerned about it "failing"! An exercise should never be pulled off flawlessly and be expected or reported as perfect. Possibly a fire drill, but not a disaster exercise. It is a training vehicle for the unusual, the unexpected, the extraordinary. Each one should result in improved plans, systems, procedures, knowledge, capabilities, and preparedness. If such be the case, then no exercise is EVER a failure.
In evaluating an exercise, consider the following:
- How effectively did the people communicate (not radio communicate, but as people to people) with interagency counterparts, exchange information, compromise, put aside rivalries and parochial interests?
- How well did they translate the thinking/planning and communicating into choices, decisions and actions?
- How well did each participant think about their problems (in the exercise or real life experience) realizing that they could no longer function in any semblance of normal conditions?
(Condensed from an article by Stan Harter titled "Putting It All Together" written after a three day disaster seminar for city, county and other executives conducted by Pete Peterka, then Director of Emergency Management Services for Sonoma County. The seminar included a tabletop exercise based on a hypothetical 7.9 Richter earthquake with a nearby epicenter that had "just happened".)