First Things First – Conduct Your Exercises in Proper Order

When drills are done properly, they can build support for emergency preparedness.

The emergency management community has spent decades developing the progressive exercise approach to drills and exercises. The events of September 11, 2001 led to the development of another detailed approach to exercises from the federal homeland security perspective.  At the same time, it is still quite common to see full – scale exercises being conducted in K-20 organizations that do not follow the progressive exercise approach. 

For maximum benefit, increased safety and improved confidence of personnel, it is a really good idea to follow the progressive exercise approach using a series of drills, tabletop exercises and functional exercises prior to conducting a full-scale exercise.  There have been many situations where a campus full-scale exercise has gone badly because this approach was not followed.  Campus organizations have faced significant loss of confidence by students, staff and the public. People have been hurt and in at least one instance, death has occurred as the result of an improperly conducted school exercise.

Taking the time to utilize a series of drills and exercises that are planned and coordinated by folks who have formal training in exercise design and evaluation can help get the true benefit of the concept while avoiding the sometimes significant problems that arise when this approach has been skipped.  A proper approach to the exercise process can build tremendous improvement and support for emergency preparedness measures.

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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