Actor – is someone who acts as a patient or victim during an exercise.

Actual Event – is a “real life” occurrence of a natural or man-made hazard requiring the mobilization of emergency response personnel.

After Action Report (AAR)– refers to the formal written documentation analyzing the performance of assigned personnel after an exercise or actual event. It is the final product of an exercise and captures observations and recommendations based on the exercise objectives as associated with the capabilities and tasks.

Agenda– refers to the format for participants to follow that lists the topic areas, time allowed, and presenters for an activity.

Artificialities– are the conditions created by the design of an exercise that do not simulate or mirror actual conditions. The use of artificialities may interfere with the participant’s ability to respond realistically.

Briefing – is a meeting held, before the exercise begins, to inform participants on the ground rules of conduct and their roles and responsibilities.  A briefing covers the exercise objectives and scope, the parameters and limits of play, simulations, and how and when the debriefing process will occur.  Actors, players, observers, and controllers/evaluators, usually attend separate briefings.

Building Block Approach - is a focus on exposing participants to a cycle of training and exercises that escalates in complexity, with each exercise designed to build upon the last, in terms of scale and subject matter. For example, a building-block series of exercises may include a seminar, which leads to a tabletop exercise (TTX), which leads to a full-scale exercise (FSE).


Capability– refers to the ability to perform with skill or knowledge, or provide a resource to meet specific requirement.

Checklist– is a written list of items intended to aid memory that describes the actions that need to be taken by an assigned individual or an organization.

Cold-Wash – is a post-exercise meeting that is held after a period of time, not immediately after the exercise.  Preliminary observations and evaluations are discussed and participants have an opportunity to provide feedback that might have been missed in the hot-wash. 

Concept & Objectives Meeting (C&O Meeting) - is the formal beginning of the exercise planning process. It is held to agree upon already-identified type, scope, capabilities, objectives, and purpose of the exercise. For less complex exercises and for organizations with limited resources, the C&O Meeting can be conducted in conjunction with the Initial Planning Conference (IPC).  However, when the exercise scope dictates, the C&O Meeting is held first. Representatives from the sponsoring organization, the lead exercise planner, and senior officials typically attend the C&O Meeting to identify an overall exercise goal, develop rough drafts of exercise capabilities and objectives, and identify exercise planning team members.

Contingency Messages– are injects that are prepared in case participants do not take the anticipated action that is to be driven by that key event in a timely manner.  They redirect play so exercise goals can be met.

Control Cell– is a location away from exercise participants that provides a facility for control and management of an exercise.

Controller – is a person whose role is to ensure the objectives are sufficiently exercised, the level of activity keeps participants occupied and challenged, and the pace (flow) of the exercise proceeds according to the scenario.

Controller and Evaluator (C/E) Handbook - supplements the Exercise Plan (ExPlan) for operations-based exercises, containing more detailed information about the exercise scenario and describing exercise controllers' and evaluators' roles and responsibilities. Because the C/E Handbook contains information on the scenario and exercise administration, it is distributed only to those individuals specifically designated as controllers or evaluators.

Controller Inject– refers to the introduction of events, data, and information into exercises by a controller to drive the demonstration of the objectives.

Corrective Action Plan (CAP)– is a process that follows an exercise to identify program shortfalls and necessary corrective actions to address those shortfalls.

Critical Infrastructure – in Canada this is defined as those physical and information technology facilities, networks, services and assets which, if disrupted or destroyed, would have a serious impact on the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians or the effective functioning of governments in Canada.

Critique– is also called a Debriefing or Hot-wash. It refers to a meeting of participants, facilitators and/or controllers, and evaluators following the conclusion of the exercise activity to provide essential comments on operations and performance during exercise play.

Damage Assessment– is the process used to appraise or determine the number of injuries and deaths, damage to public and private property, and the status of key facilities and services such as hospitals, health care facilities, fire and police facilities, communication networks, water and sanitation systems, utilities, and transportation networks, all resulting from a man-made or natural disaster.

Debriefing – see Critique.  This term may also be called a Hot-wash.

Design and Development -builds on the exercise foundation. The design and development process consists of identifying capabilities, tasks, and objectives, designing the scenario, creating documentation, coordinating logistics, planning exercise conduct, and selecting an evaluation and improvement methodology.

Detailed (Minor) Events – refers to problems within major events that are specific in nature and normally require an operational response.

Disaster– is an occurrence of a natural catastrophe, technological accident, or human caused event that has resulted in severe property damage, deaths, and/or multiple injuries.

Discussion-based Exercises – are exercises that familiarize participants with current plans, policies, agreements and procedures.  They are also used to develop new plans, policies, agreements, and procedures.

Drill – is an event involving organizational responses to a simulated accident or emergency exercise activity to develop, test, and monitor specialized emergency skills that constitute one or more components (functions) of an emergency operations plan and procedure. It is a coordinated, supervised activity and is usually used to test a single, specific operation or function within a single entity (e.g., a fire department conducts a decontamination drill).

Due Diligence- is the level of judgment, care, prudence, determination, and activity that a person would reasonably be expected to do under particular circumstances.  As applied to an emergency program, due diligence means that all reasonable precautions are taken to address public safety risks, including during response to an emergency. This duty also applies to situations that are not addressed elsewhere in the occupational health and safety legislation.

Emergency– is a situation or an impending situation caused by the forces of nature, an accident, and an intentional act or otherwise that constitutes a danger of major proportions to life or property. These situations could threaten public safety, public health, the environment, property, critical infrastructure and economic stability.  Three categories of emergencies: Human-Caused, Natural and Technological.

Emergency Area– is a geographic area within which an emergency has occurred or is about to occur, and which has been identified, delineated and designated to receive emergency response actions.

Emergency Information–refers to information about an emergency, which is communicated broadly to the community and other stakeholders.

Emergency Management – refers to the organized and comprehensive programs and activities undertaken to deal with actual or potential emergencies or disasters. These include prevention of, mitigation against, preparedness for, response to and recovery from emergencies or disasters.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)–isa facility where the Control Group assembles to manage an emergency. In a real emergency, the EOC is a protected site where officials coordinate, monitor, and direct response and recovery activities.

Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)– is a document that describes how people and property will be protected during a threat or actual emergency/disaster, detailing who is responsible for carrying out specific actions. It identifies the personnel, equipment, facilities, supplies, and other resources available for use in the emergency/disaster, and outlines how all the actions will be coordinated.

Emergency Response Plan (ERP) –is a risk-based plan developed and maintained to respond to an emergency.

Emergency Response Organization –is a group or organization (public, private or volunteer) with emergency response trained staff that are prepared and may be called upon to respond as part of the coordinated response to an emergency situation.

Evacuation – refers to the organized, phased, and supervised dispersal of people from dangerous or potentially dangerous areas.

Evaluation – is the process of observing and recording exercise activities, comparing performance of participants against exercise objectives, and noting strengths and deficiencies.

Evaluation Methodology – refers to the procedures and strategy used to evaluate an exercise. This would include the structure of the evaluation team, objectives, and the evaluation packet.

Evaluation Plan (EvalPlan) - is typically used for operations-based exercises of a large scope and scale.  This document provides specific guidance to exercise evaluators. It’s designed to help exercise evaluators understand their roles and responsibilities in exercise data collection and evaluation in order to conduct an effective analysis of the exercise and produce a comprehensive AAR/IP.

Evaluation Team - consists of evaluators trained to observe and record participant actions. These individuals should be familiar with the exercising organization’s plans, policies, procedures, and agreements.

Evaluator – is an individual assigned to one or more exercise functions or locations to document and evaluate individual, team, and organizational performance based on the exercise objectives and performance criteria.

Evaluators Critique – refers to a meeting of evaluators to collect and analyze exercise performance in preparation for completing an evaluation report.

Exercise – is a simulated emergency, in which members of various agencies perform the tasks that would be expected of them in a real emergency.

Exercise Activity – is an activity that provides an opportunity for participants to train in and practice emergency and crisis management skills. Exercise activities provide a method of evaluating participants’ ability to meet emergency and crisis management requirements and responsibilities.

Exercise Control Plan - provides exercise controllers and simulators with guidance concerning procedures and responsibilities for exercise control, simulation, and support. It explains the exercise concept as it relates to controllers and simulators, establishes the basis for control and simulation of the exercise, and establishes and defines the communications, logistics, and administration structure needed to support control and simulation during the exercise.

Exercise Coordinator – is the person given the responsibility for and authority to properly plan an exercise.

Exercise Directive – is a letter or memo sent to organizations invited to play in an exercise. The directive is one means of gaining support from those who should participate in the exercise.

Exercise Director - The exercise director oversees all exercise functions during exercise conduct; oversees and remains in contact with controllers and evaluators; debriefs controllers and evaluators following the exercise; and oversees setup and cleanup of exercise and positioning of controllers and evaluators.

Exercise Documentation – refers to all information that is formulated and collected, from the initial design planning of the exercise to the final After Action Report (AAR).

Exercise Enhancements – is a list of resources that can be gathered to add “realism” to the exercise. This would include communications equipment, visuals, charts, computers, video, props, special equipment, and people.

Exercise Evaluation - the act of observing and recording exercise activity or conduct, by comparing the behaviour or actions against the exercise objectives, while noting strengths and weaknesses.

Exercise Evaluation Guide (EEG) – is a guide that helps evaluators collect and interpret relevant exercise observations. EEGs provide evaluators with information on what tasks they should expect to see accomplished during an exercise, space to record observations, and questions to address after the exercise as a first step in the analysis process.

Exercise Objectives - are established for every exercise. Well-defined objectives provide a framework for scenario development, guide individual organizations’ objective development, and inform exercise evaluation criteria. Organizations should frame exercise objectives with the aim of attaining capabilities established as priorities in the Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plan and schedule. Objectives should reflect specific capabilities that the exercising organization establishes as priorities, and the tasks associated with those capabilities. Objectives should be simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and task-oriented (SMART). Planners should limit the number of exercise objectives to enable timely execution and to facilitate design of a realistic scenario.

Exercise Phase – refers to the periods before, during, and after the exercise, as exercise tasks are organized.

Exercise Plan (ExPlan)–is a plan typically used for operations-based exercises.  It provides a synopsis of the exercise and is published and distributed to participants and observers prior to the start of the exercise. The ExPlan includes the exercise objectives and scope, safety procedures, and logistical considerations such as an exercise schedule.

The ExPlan enables participants to understand their roles and responsibilities in exercise planning, execution, and evaluation. It’s intended for use by exercise players and observers—therefore, it does not contain detailed scenario information that may reduce the realism of the tasks to be performed. Players and observers should review all elements of the ExPlan prior to exercise participation.

Exercise Planning Team – a group of individuals with the overall responsibility for all phases of an exercise.

Exercise Play – refers to the actual conduct of an exercise from initiation to termination.

Exercise Program –refers to an exercise program that is risk-based and includes a cycle, mix, and range of exercise activities of varying degrees of complexity and interaction.

Exercise Reporting Form– is a document that is used to record specific information on drills, and tabletop, functional, and full-scale exercises.

Exercise Scenario - provides the backdrop and storyline that drive an exercise. The first step in designing a scenario is determining the type of threat/hazard to be used in an exercise. The hazards selected for an exercise should realistically stress the capabilities an organization is attempting to improve through its exercise programs. A hazard should also be a realistic representation of potential threats faced by the exercising jurisdiction. For discussion-based exercises, a scenario provides the backdrop that drives participant discussion. For operations-based exercises, the scenario should provide background information on the incident catalyst of the exercise.

Exercise Scope– refers to the process of determining realistic limits on the personnel, organizations, and resources required to conduct an exercise activity, based on the needs assessment. This includes hazards, geographical area, functions, agencies and personnel, and exercise type.

Expected Actions – refers to the actions or decisions that are expected of the participants in order to demonstrate competence, based on the objectives of the exercise.


Facilitator – is a specially trained individual assigned responsibility for guiding participant discussions during tabletop exercises to ensure key issues are addressed.

Final Planning Conference (FPC) - is the final forum for reviewing exercise processes and procedures before the exercise begins.  It’s the forum for the exercise planning team to review the process and procedures for exercise conduct, final drafts of all exercise materials, and all logistical requirements. There should be no major changes made to either the design or the scope of the exercise, nor to any supporting documentation, at the FPC. The FPC ensures all logistical requirements have been arranged, all outstanding issues have been identified and resolved, and all exercise products are ready for printing.

Follow-up Activity – refers to a post-exercise process. After the evaluation of an exercise has been completed, certain items or issues will remain to be addressed. Normally, persons or committees will be assigned this task.

Foundation - is the first phase in the exercise process, focusing on developing a project management timeline, establishing milestones, identifying an exercise planning team, and scheduling planning conferences.

Free-play – is a spontaneous message injected by a simulator or controller, prompted by the performance or non-performance of the players.

Full-scale Exercise – is an activity intended to evaluate the capability of emergency management systems over a period of time by testing the major portions of an emergency operations plan and organizations, under a stressful environment. (This will include the mobilization of personnel, equipment, and resources, their actual movement, and testing the coordination and response capability.)  It is a multi-organizational, multi-jurisdictional, multi-discipline exercise involving functional (e.g., joint field office, emergency operation centers, etc.) and "boots on the ground" response (e.g., firefighters decontaminating mock victims).

Function –refers to actions or operations required in emergency response or recovery, such as alert notification, communications, and coordination/control.

Functional Exercise – refers to activities designed to test or evaluate the capability of individual or multiple emergency functions, with time constraints, and normally in the emergency operations center (EOC). This activity, based on a scenario event, provides practice for participants without movement of personnel or equipment.  It examines and/or validates the coordination, command, and control between various multi-agency coordination centers (e.g., emergency operation center, joint field office, etc.). A functional exercise does not involve any "boots on the ground" (i.e., first responders or emergency officials responding to an incident in real time).


Game is an exercise that explores the way decisions are made, and the consequences of those decisions in a simulated situation. In a game, the same situation can be examined from various angles by changing the variables that guide participants’ actions.  It often involves two or more teams, usually in a competitive environment, using rules, data, and procedures designed to depict an actual or assumed real-life situation.

Gantt Chart – refers to a chart displaying the time and task schedule for exercise development.  See examples below.

Goal of an Exercise – refers to the purpose of conducting an exercise activity and what is to be accomplished.

Governance - refers to how an exercise program is run and controlled. It sets the processes that define expectations, verify performance, and is a mechanism to provide accountability.

Hazard – is any dangerous event or circumstance that has the potential to lead to an emergency or disaster.

Hot-Wash – is an immediate debriefing session between participants and members of the exercise planning team to discuss their preliminary observations. A hot-wash is done while events are fresh in everyone’s minds. What went right, as well as what went wrong, is identified. Ideas about how to improve in the future are freely shared. The Exercise Controller must carefully avoid two dangers here: first, self-congratulatory accounts that mask important deficiencies and, second, the creation of an impression that someone or something is to blame. This information will be used in writing the After Action Report (AAR).   (See also Critique.  This term may also be called a Debriefing.) 


Improvement Plan (IP) – is a plan that builds on the After Action Report (AAR) by identifying specific corrective actions, assigning these actions to responsible parties, and establishing targets for their completion. For each task, the Improvement Plan (IP) lists the corrective actions that will be taken, the responsible party or agency, and the expected completion date. The Improvement Plan (IP) is included at the end of the After Action Report (AAR).

Incident Management System (IMS) – refers to the organizational structure used to coordinate the resources and personnel that have responded to the scene of an emergency or disaster.

Initial Planning Conference (IPC) –is an activity to bring together the stakeholders and plan the upcoming year(s) of exercises.  The Initial Planning Conference (IPC) is typically the first step in the planning process and lays the foundation for the exercise (unless a Concept & Objectives (C&O) Meeting is held). Its purpose is to gather input from the exercise planning team on the scope; design requirements and conditions (such as assumptions and artificialities); objectives; level of participation; and scenario variables (e.g., location, threat/hazard selection), and Master Scenario Events List (MSEL). During the Initial Planning Conference (IPC), the exercise planning team decides on exercise location, schedule, duration, and other details required to develop exercise documentation. Planning team members should be assigned responsibility for the tasks outlined in the conference.

Inject – is an instruction to controllers to insert information and/or begin simulations, actions, and contingency messages. The terms “inject” and “messages” are used interchangeably and sometimes together. They are associated with the Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) and link simulation to action and enhance the exercise. They are formatted and presented to reflect the data that would be observed in a real event. Contingency messages are injects that are used when expected response actions do not occur. They redirect play so exercise goals can be met.

Job Aids – is a mechanism to provide short-term training for procedures, processes, and functions. This could include checklists, procedure lists, decision guides, forms and worksheets, and reference sources.

Joint Information Center /Joint Public Information Center –is a central point of contact for all news media near the scene of a large-scale disaster or exercise.

Lead Controller – is the person with overall responsibility for exercise management and information flow during drills and exercises. Decisions on deviations from pre-scripted scenario or exercise terminations are coordinated through this position.

Lead Evaluator– is the person with overall responsibility for directing the documentation and evaluation of drills and exercises.  The lead evaluator participates fully as a member of the exercise planning team, and is a seniorâlevel individual familiar with: prevention, protection, response, and/or recovery issues associated with the exercise; Plans, policies, and procedures of the exercising organization; Incident Management and decision-making processes of the exercising organization; and inter-organizational and/or inter-jurisdictional coordination issues relevant to the exercise. The lead evaluator needs to have the management skills needed to oversee a team of evaluators over an extended process, as well as the knowledge and analytical skills to undertake a thorough and accurate analysis of all capabilities being tested during an exercise.

Lead Exercise Planner - oversees the exercise planning team; develops the exercise project management timeline and the exercise project management assignment list; assigns exercise responsibilities; provides overall guidance; and monitors the development process.

Major Events – is a list of likely problems resulting from a disaster scenario which are expected events (based on case studies or operational plans), as it coincides with the exercise objectives.

Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) – is a chronological timeline of expected actions and scripted events (i.e., injects) to be inserted into operations-based exercise play by controllers in order to generate or prompt player activity. It ensures necessary events happen so that all exercise objectives are met.

Master Scenario Events List Conference (MSEL Conference) - may be held in preparation for more complex, operations-based exercises, specifically to review the scenario timeline and focus on MSEL development.

Master Sequence of Events –as a part of the exercise design package, this list provides all the events that are likely to happen. This will include major events, with minor events for each major event.

Message – is an instruction to controllers to insert information and/or begin simulations, actions, and contingency messages. Messages are disseminated by the exercise simulators, and may be verbal, written or in the form of a visual display.  They are formatted and presented to reflect the data that would be observed in a real event.  The terms inject and messages are used interchangeably and sometimes together

Message Controller – is a person assigned to document the flow of messages into and out of the exercise playing area and designate each to the proper destinations.

Mid Term Planning Conference (MPC) – is an operations-based exercise planning conference, used to discuss exercise organization and staffing concepts; scenario and timeline development; and scheduling, logistics, and administrative requirements. It is also a session to review draft documentation (e.g., scenario, ExPlan, C/E Handbook, MSEL). (Note: A MSEL Conference can be held in conjunction with or separate from the MPC to review the scenario timeline for the exercise.)

Mitigation– refers to the sustained actions taken to eliminate or reduce risks and impacts posed by hazards well before an emergency or disaster occurs.  Mitigation activities may be included as part of prevention.

Mitigation Plan – is based on a risk assessment, and indicates that each organization should implement a strategy and plan to eliminate the impact of hazards or mitigate the effects of hazards that cannot be eliminated. A mitigation plan should contain details on activities planned to eliminate or reduce the degree of risk to life, property, and environment from the identified hazards.

Multi-Year Exercise Plan –is a document that describes exercise activities over several years, based on the needs of an organization. It is the foundational document guiding a successful exercise program. The multi-year plan provides a mechanism for long-term coordination of training and exercise activities toward an organization’s preparedness goals. This plan describes the program’s training and exercise priorities and associated capabilities, and aids in employing the building-block approach for training and exercise activities.

Mutual Aid Agreement–is an agreement developed between two or more emergency services to render aid to the parties of the agreement. These types of agreements can include private sector emergency services when appropriate.

Mutual Assistance Agreement–is an agreement developed between two or more organizations or jurisdictions to render assistance to the parties of the agreement. Jurisdictions could include neighbouring, cities, regions, provinces or nations.


Narrative Summary–is a short overview of the exercise scenario written in paragraph form, outlining major events.

Needs Assessment– is a process of defining an organization’s inventory of problems or needs.


Objectives – are the stated goals of exercise activities. Objectives define the level of skill and specific capabilities to be demonstrated by players during the exercise. Exercise objectives are used as the basis of evaluation of exercise performance or assessment of training effectiveness.

Observer - is someone who has no role to play in the exercise but is witnessing events either to assess the preparations of the organization or individuals within it, or to learn lessons.

Operations-based Exercises – are exercises that validate plans, policies, agreements and procedures, clarify roles and responsibilities, and identify resource gaps in an operational environment.

Orientation– is an exercise activity that involves bringing together those with a role or interest in a plan, problem, or procedure. Participants are provided information through the use of lecture, film, slides or other visuals, or panel discussion. It is considered to be the foundation for emergency management exercises.

Participant – refers to a person involved in carrying out the exercise. The term includes actors, controllers, data collectors/evaluators, facilitators, and players. It does not include observers.

Performance Requirements– are those response activities required or expected of the governments, organizations, teams, or individuals, established by regulatory mandate, industry standard or policy.

Performance Standards– are the criteria by which operational and management functions can be measured to evaluate the degree to which those functions have achieved a minimum level of quality. 

Player – is an exercise participant who is responsible for taking whatever actions are necessary to respond to a simulated emergency.

Player Critique – is an open meeting or format for receiving feedback from players of an exercise, and discussing player performance and exercise experience.

Player Handout - is a 1-2 page document, usually handed out the morning of an exercise, which provides a quick reference for exercise players on safety procedures, logistical considerations, exercise schedule, and other key factors and information.

Points of Review – refers to the specific activities that must occur to achieve an exercise objective. They are highlighted on an evaluation form to assist evaluators.

Preparedness–refers to the actions taken prior to an emergency or disaster to ensure an effective response.  These actions include the formulation of an emergency response plan, a business continuity/continuity of operations plan, training, exercises, and public awareness and education.

Prevention–refers to actions taken to avoid the occurrence of negative consequences associated with a given threat. Prevention activities may be included as part of mitigation.

Private Sector–refers to a business or industry not owned or managed by any level of government.

Prompt – refers to the act of a controller providing information to a player that he/she did not “earn”, or take initiative on his/her own to obtain through normal channels methods.

Public Awareness Program–is a program thatprovides generic information to the broader public to raise awareness about emergency management and suggests ways to reduce the risk of loss of life and property damage in the event of an emergency.

Public Sector–is aparticular element or component of government, i.e. police, fire, public works, of a municipal, provincial/territorial or federal government.

Purpose Statement– is a broad statement of the exercise goal used to communicate why the exercise is being conducted.

Real Time– refers to when actual time is used for the simulated events to take place.

Reception Centre –is a place to which evacuees can go to register, receive assistance for basic needs, information and referral to a shelter if required.  It is usually located outside the impactzone of the emergency.

Recovery – refers to the actions taken to recover from an emergency or disaster. It also means attempting to return as close to normal as possible, during and immediately following an emergency or disaster. Short-term recovery involves re-instituting immediate needs of victims (food, power, sanitation, water, communications, shelter, etc.). Long-term recovery is activities or projects that will take considerable time to resolve (relocation of flood prone residents, rebuilding of a public facility, counselling programs, etc.).

Recovery Plan – is a risk-based emergency plan that is developed and maintained to recover from an emergency or disaster.

Response–refers to the actions taken to respond to an emergency or disaster.   These are the activities that occur during and immediately following an emergency or disaster that are designed to provide emergency assistance to the victims and reduce the likelihood of secondary damage.

Risk–refers to a chance or possibility of danger, loss, injury, or other adverse consequences.

Risk Assessment–refers to the identification of risks to public safety, public health, the environment, property, critical infrastructure and economic stability from natural, human-caused and technological sources/activities, and evaluation of the importance of the activity to continued operations. Vulnerability of an organization to each activity should also be evaluated.

Rules of Play– refers to the exercise instructions for participants that provide an orientation covering the extent of play, administrative and logistical matters, safety procedures, and other concerns of the exercise.


Scenario– is a sequential account of a simulated emergency or disaster providing the catalyst for the exercise. It introduces situations that solicit responses and allows demonstration of exercise objectives.  It is a hypothetical situation or chain of events that depicts an incident, emergency, or crisis and all the associated consequences. It is then used to guide simulation during a drill or exercise.

Scenario Time– is expressed in terms of time elapsed since the initiating event.

Scenario Narrative– is the part of the scenario that sets the scene for an exercise to begin, consisting of a hypothetical emergency or disaster situation, creating the need for emergency response.

Scope and Extent of Play – refers to the parameters within which the exercise activity will be conducted.  It defines the duration, participants’ involvement, level of detail and simulation, and extent of mobilization. It also indicates whether exercise time and date will be announced or unannounced.

Seminar - is an informal discussion exercise, designed to orient the participants to new or updated plans, policies, or procedures (e.g., a seminar to review a new Evacuation Standard Operating Procedure).

Shall–indicates a mandatory requirement.

Should–indicates a recommendation or that which is advised but not required.

Simulation– refers to the creation of a perception of a situation, event, or environment, which will evoke responses similar to those of a real emergency.

Simulation Cell– refers to the exercise control personnel who portray roles for organizations or personnel outside the exercise environment. The cell is responsible for artificially duplicating or role playing response activities.

Simulator – is an individual assigned the responsibility to artificially duplicate (role play) the response activities of personnel and groups not participating in the exercise.

Situation Manual (SitMan) - is a participant handbook for discussion-based exercises, particularly tabletops (TTXs). It provides background information on exercise scope, schedule, and objectives. It also presents the scenario narrative that will drive participant discussions during the exercise.  

Situation Report (Sit Rep) – is a report on the current situation in a simulated emergency during an exercise.

Standard – refers to the common criteria used to measure performance.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)–refers to a set of instructions constituting a directive, covering those features of operations which lend themselves to a definite step-by-step process of accomplishment.


Tabletop Exercise– is an activity in which key staff or other emergency management personnel are gathered together informally and without time constraints, usually in a conference room setting, to discuss various simulated emergency situations. The focus is on examination and discussion of problems with resolution. 

Telecommunications – is the transmission or reception of signs, images, sound or intelligence of any kind over, wires, by radio waves or other technical systems.

Threatrefers to a person, thing or event regarded as a likely cause of harm or damage.

Time-jump– refers to a mechanism by which scenario events may be artificially accelerated in order to place participants in situations that would occur at a future point in time. Time jumps require exercise play to be stopped and then to resume at some future point in time. Time jumps are done to include events that otherwise would not occur in the limited amount of time allowed for an exercise.

Time-keeper/Recorder – is a person who notes critical events and times during an exercise.

Timeline – is a sequential listing of the times and key events in a scenario that drive participant response.

Training– refers to activities undertaken to educate personnel assigned to emergency response and crisis management roles and responsibilities. Training is designed to provide an opportunity to practice crisis and emergency management skills, ensuring that they are adequately prepared to fulfill these roles in the event of an incident, emergency, or crisis.

Trusted Agent– refers to individuals with unique or specialized expertise who are confidentially included in the scenario development to ensure realistic events are postulated and appropriate responses are anticipated. Generally, trusted agents will not participate as players during an exercise, as they have inside knowledge of the scenario and timelines.


Vulnerabilityrefers to the degree of susceptibility and resilience of the organization and environment to hazards, the characteristics of a system in terms of its capacity to anticipate, cope with and recover from events. 


Widespread Emergency– refers to an emergency that impacts a large geographic area and affects a large number of jurisdictions simultaneously.

Work Plan– is a brief narrative describing what will be accomplished within a period of time.

Workshop is an exercise that resembles a seminar, but is used to build specific products, such as a draft plan or policy (e.g., a Training and Exercise Plan Workshop is used to develop a Multi-year Training and Exercise Plan). 

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