Exercise Phases

Exercises are learning processes, composed of several different stages. They serve to detect failures, learn, print corrections and adjustments to the processes practiced, contributing in this way to a vast process of continuous improvement, in this case the management of protection and relief operations.

The Cycle of an Exercise can be divided into the following main phases:
• Planning
• Conducting
• Evaluation
• Introduction of corrections

The Planning of a civil protection exercise presents the following main sub-steps:
• Definition of the typology: nature, purpose and territorial scope
• Definition of objectives
• Identification of the participating entities
• Definition of steering structures and auxiliary structures
• Constitution of the Central Planning Team
• Identification and development of scenarios
• Definition of safety procedures
• Elaboration of the Communications Plan
• Chronological identification of the phases of the exercise
• Scheduling and preparation of planning meetings
• Preparation of supporting documents
• Development of assessment forms
• Identification of the Evaluation Team
• Identification of the Injectors Team

The Conducting phase is the one in which the exercise itself takes place.
Incidents are injected into the scenarios as the exercise develops, in order to create realism and print the desired levels of dynamism and must be identified upstream of the beginning of the exercise (START EX). This is one of the most important components of a civil protection exercise.

During the course of an exercise, all messages associated with it should be preceded by the expression “EXERCISE – EXERCISE – EXERCISE”. If an actual and real situation arises which requires specific treatment, all communications associated with it shall be preceded by the indication “NO PLAY – NO PLAY – NO PLAY”.
Whenever there is a need to suspend the exercise, in particular when a real accident occurs in the current financial year or when the entities involved are confronted with a real situation that prevents them from continuing to participate, the communication to be issued will be “ABORT – ABORT – ABORT “.

Evaluation is the third phase, but in practice it’s carried out throughout the whole course of the exercise. It is this evaluative process that takes place during the exercise that allows the collection of data and information that will allow its final.

It is the evaluation that allows judging the value of the exercise, the degree of accomplishment of its aims and objectives, identify difficulties, draw conclusions and, at the end, establish the necessary recommendations. After the end of the exercise, it is essential to identify a specific moment exclusively dedicated to evaluation.

The introduction of the corrections identified during the exercise evaluation is the last phase, but probably one of the most important.

Correcting identified failures and constraints and improving emergency management processes are the most important objectives underlying the carrying out of civil protection exercises, and if they are not carried out, they detract from the whole purpose of the exercises.

Thus, the entity responsible for the exercise should make efforts so that the results achieved can effectively translate into an improvement of the processes tested.