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Adapting to the storm: Perspectives on hurricane response from county, university, and military leaders

Why are emergency preparedness and response exercises important? – Part two

Tell, Teach, Involve

Training and Learning Techniques for Emergency Notification and Incident Notification Personnel


“Tell me and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin


What are goals, objectives, and measures for emergency preparedness and response exercises?


Setting goals and objectives is a great way to evaluate the effectiveness of emergency preparedness and response exercises. In many situations, organizations can review their emergency preparedness and response strategies and establish new milestones.


A common goal of emergency preparedness and response drills is to develop a higher level of preparedness. Meanwhile, other goals are often driven by the needs of your organization – it is crucial for staff members to show that they are trained or that your emergency plan is reliable and valid.


Objectives provide details that highlight what an exercise will accomplish. Lastly, measures help organizations ensure that they meet their objectives.


In our last edition, we examined the value of emergency preparedness and response exercises and several types of drills. Today, we will continue our review of these strategies and look at an example from the Greater New York Hospital Association’s Effective Emergency Mangement Drills and Exercises.




Hospital A is located near a subway station in New York City. In its Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA), Hospital A has identified the possibility of receiving patients who have been contaminated as a result of a chemical terrorism event.




The goals of the exercise are to test the hospital’s emergency management plan for mitigating the consequences of an event identified in its HVA (a chemical event, in this case), including decontamination. In addition, the hospital wants to test its response and the activation of its incident command system.




The exercise’s objectives include:

• Preparing, within a specific period of time, to decontaminate patients

• Getting decontamination team members ready to be outfitted in personal protective equipment (PPE) within a specific period of time

• Stopping contaminated patients from entering the emergency department without being decontaminated

• Decontaminating ambulatory and non-ambulatory patients within a specific period of time after they arrive at the emergency department.




The exercise can be evaluated using the following measures:

• How long did it take the hospital to get its decontamination equipment ready?

• How long did it take staff to be outfitted in PPE?

• Were patients stopped before entering the emergency department?

• How long did it take to decontaminate patients?


Emergency preparedness and response exercises provide significant value to organizations of all sizes. Conduct these drills to ensure staff and volunteers are protected against a wide range of dangers.

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