Types of Training and Exercises


Seminars are discussion-based exercises designed to orient participants to new or updated plans, policies, or procedures in a structured training environment.


Workshops are discussion-based exercises used as a means of developing specific products, such as a draft plan or policy.

Tabletop Exercises (TTX)

A tabletop exercise is a facilitated analysis of an emergency situation in an informal, stress-free environment. There is minimal attempt at simulation in a tabletop exercise. Equipment is not used, resources are not deployed, and time pressures are not introduced. Tabletops are designed to elicit constructive discussion as participants examine and resolve problems based on existing operational plans and identify where those plans need to be refined. The success of the exercise is largely determined by group participation in the identification of problem areas.


A drill is a coordinated, supervised exercise activity, normally used to test a single specific operation or function. It can also be used to provide training with new equipment or to practice and maintain current skills. Its role in your exercise program is to practice and perfect one small part of your damage assessment program and help prepare for more extensive exercises, in which several functions will be coordinated and tested.

Functional Exercises (FE)

A functional exercise is a fully simulated interactive exercise that tests the capability of an organization to respond to a simulated event. It is similar to a full-scale exercise, but does not include equipment. It simulates an incident in the most realistic manner possible short of moving resources to an actual site. The exercise tests multiple functions of your damage assessment plan.

A functional exercise focuses on the coordination, integration, and interaction of an organization’s policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities before, during, or after the simulated event. Functional exercises make it possible to examine and/or validate the coordination, command, and control between various multi-agency coordination centers without incurring the cost of a full-scale exercise. A functional exercise is a prerequisite to a full-scale exercise.

Full-scale Exercises (FSE)

A full-scale exercise simulates a real event as closely as possible. It is multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional, multi-discipline exercise designed to evaluate the operational capability of emergency management systems in a highly stressful environment that simulates actual response conditions. To accomplish this realism, it requires the mobilization and actual movement of emergency personnel, equipment, and resources. Ideally, the full-scale exercise should test and evaluate most functions of your damage assessment plan on a regular basis.

Full-scale exercises are the ultimate in the testing of functions¾the “trial by fire.” Because they are expensive and time consuming, it is important that they be reserved for the highest priority hazards and functions.