Step 4: Practice Your Plan
Staff members should be trained on the Emergency Action Plan, Continuity of Operations Plan, policies, and procedures for your organization. The emergency plans should also be tested regularly. Policies and procedures should take note of the organization's specific vulnerabilities to hazards and the emergency planning completed in previous sections. The creation of an all-hazards, facility-specific training and exercise program will ensure that your staff stays knowledgeable about the emergency policies and procedures that are in place.
Note: Depending on your industry/organization type and local regulations, you may have requirements that have previously been established with regard to training and exercises. Be sure to take these requirements into account when developing your training and exercise plan.
Customized safety training is a great opportunity to ensure members of your organization will be able to act in an emergency. The City of Nashua and the Greater Nashua Public Health Network offers many engaging safety and personal preparedness training, such as Community Emergency Response Team training, Until Help Arrives, and Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events & Casualty Care.
City of Nashua offers the Until Help Arrives training which focuses on the initial actions that can be taken to save lives. At the end of the free 3-hour course, participants are able to:
- Use simple and effective skills to save lives.
- Communicate with 9-1-1 operators effectively.
- Act to protect the injured from further harm.
- Position the injured.
- Stop life-threatening bleeding.
- Provide emotional support
Local government prepares for everyday emergencies. However, during a disaster, the number and scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program is an all-risk, all-hazard training. This valuable course is designed to help you protect yourself, your family, your neighbors and your neighborhood in an emergency situation. Community Emergency Response Team training is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens may initially be on their own and their actions can make a difference. While people will respond to others in need without the training, one goal of the Community Emergency Response Team program is to help them do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger. In the Community Emergency Response Team training, citizens learn to:
- Collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts
- Manage utilities and put out small fires
- Organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective
- Provide basic medical aid
- Search for and rescue victims safely
- Treat the three medical killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding, and treating for shock
To learn more about upcoming training sessions or to request the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course at your organization, visit the CERT website.
Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events & Casualty Care
The Nashua Police Department offers the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events & Casualty Care (CRASECC) course, designed and built on the Avoid, Deny, Defend (ADD) strategy, provides strategies, guidance and a proven plan for surviving an active shooter event. Topics include the history and prevalence of active shooter events, civilian response options, and considerations for conducting drills. The Police Department also incorporates medical training into the program to highlight the importance of bleeding control and other techniques related to injuries frequently seen during a shooting. If you are not able to offer the full Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events & Casualty Care program, a video has been developed reviewing the key concepts.
Other Training Opportunities
The Nashua Office of Emergency Management provides a basic in-person training highlighting the 7 Response Actions and Incident Command System fundamentals for all types of organizations ranging from schools to businesses. The program takes two hours and provides a comprehensive overview of these most essential components of the organization's Emergency Action Plan. Additional trainings on other emergency planning topics can be requested as needed. To request training from the Office of Emergency Management, please contact us.
The NH Department of Labor requires organizations include information in their Safety Summary Form about their safety training program and how it reduces risk around the hazards identified in your Hazard Vulnerability Assessment. This could include basic occupational health & safety, first aid, or hazardous materials training. Additional online training specific to your industry can be found here. The online training programs are free and allow your employees and volunteers to complete them at a pace that's flexible around their schedule.
Exercises should be conducted regularly to test the validity of emergency planning and training programs that are in place. These can also be utilized to evaluate the ability of assigned personnel to carry out their assigned roles in the time of an emergency. There are a number of different types of exercises that can be used to evaluate emergency plans and procedures, including:
Workshops and Orientation Seminars
- Basic step-by-step review of plans and procedures for members of your organization. These are designed to familiarize your team members with emergency response, along with their roles and responsibilities defined in the plans completed earlier.
- Discussion-based exercises where team members meet in a classroom setting to discuss their roles in an emergency situation.
- A facilitator will lead participants through a discussion of one (or more) scenarios.
- Regularly scheduled drills* that allow staff to become more familiar with the 7 Response Actions
- Drop, Cover, and Hold
- Secure Campus
- Shelter In Place
- Avoid, Deny, Defend (formerly covered by Lockdown)
- Reverse Evacuation
- Practice a specific procedure in your Continuity of Operations plan (i.e. moving operations to an off-site facility)
*Note: Fire and related drills are required in different intervals depending on local regulations for your industry/organization type.
- An exercise that takes place at your location, using the equipment and personnel that would be called on in a real event.
- Can be conducted by your organization or conducted by local, state, and federal agencies - these exercises often include participation from first responders and other public safety and health personnel.
- These exercises should not be attempted until a comprehensive training program has been established and staff have participated in a tabletop exercise.
Having trouble thinking of ways to exercise your organization's plan? Here are some FREE resources that can help you develop exercises for your organization:
PrepareAthon Tabletop Exercises
FEMA developed six simple playbooks to help organizations conduct tabletop exercises within their own organization. The scenario and all required exercise materials are already created. They just need to be customized for your organization. The scenarios are realistic and are very helpful for an organization who is new to exercising. There are also template presentations that can be used to help facilitate the discussion. All you need to do is enter in the information specific to your organization.
The playbook hazards include:
FEMA - Private Sector Emergency Planning Exercises
FEMA has developed additional template tabletop exercise materials for private sector organizations to aid in emergency planning, but they can be adapted to fit the needs of a variety of organizations. Like the PrepareAthon materials, each scenario includes a template presentation, facilitator notes, and scenario injects, when appropriate. Scenarios cover a range of hazards, including cyber incidents and chemical accidents.
DHS - Campus Resilience Program Exercise Starter Kits
The DHS Campus Resilience Program Exercise Start Kits are self-conducted tabletop exercises (TTX) tailored for the academic community. Each kit includes a set of scalable tools aimed to test existing emergency plans, protocols, and procedures, while also strengthening preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities. Each kit includes a set of planning documents that contain pre-populated exercise content that is aligned to Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) methodology and principles. Each kit contains additional guidance on how to tailor the tabletop documents appropriately to meet the desired goals and outcomes of the selected exercise. The materials within each Exercise Starter Kit have been designed in a modular format and can be completed over a single session or completed in individual modules based on user availability. Kit modules successively address issues related to prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. You can download the starter kits here.
Homeland Security Exercise & Evaluation Program (HSEEP)
Sustainability is a major consideration for emergency planning, training and testing. Emergency planning and preparedness is constantly evolving, and so should your organization's plans. The Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, or HSEEP, is a nationally recommended framework for exercise planning, design, conduct, evaluation, and reporting. This framework allows organizations to follow a natural path of increasing exercise complexity and documents exercise activities and lessons learned. You can access Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program resources here.
Get Involved with Local and Regional Emergency Planning Groups
It takes time and commitment to develop comprehensive training programs and exercises for your organization. One way to get some help is to connect with public safety officials and healthcare leaders in your area. They may be able to provide example exercises that they have conducted for their organizations and are great candidates for exercise evaluators.
You can always email us with any questions or requests for assistance in offering trainings, or developing and evaluating exercises and drills.
Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)
The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) consists of stakeholders from businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies throughout the region, collaborating together to improve their ability to prepare for and respond to disasters. Each meeting incorporates a short training or presentation on an emergency planning topic to provide attendees with resources to make their organization more resilient the threats and hazards possible in Nashua. The meetings also serve as a good opportunity to bring emergency planning concerns to government officials and to network with other community organizations. Learn about how you can join the Local Emergency Planning Committee and integrate with the City's emergency planning efforts!
Healthcare Emergency Response Coalition (HERC)
The Greater Nashua Healthcare Emergency Response Coalition (HERC) provides a forum for the healthcare community to interact with response agencies to promote emergency preparedness. This coalition also fosters communication between local, regional, and state entities for community-wide emergency planning, response and recovery.
Community Emergency Planning Spotlight
After assessing vulnerability, and developing emergency action and continuity of operations plans, the local Boys and Girls Club needs to develop a training and exercise plan. After checking on their specific requirements, the Boys and Girls Club used the resources available on the Resilient Nashua Toolkit to determine what kind of training program would be the most appropriate for their organization. This included required emergency preparedness training to all employees of the club, as well as regularly scheduled drills that allow their staff to become more comfortable with the 7 Response Actions. Because of interest generated during the emergency preparedness training sessions, the Boys and Girls Club decides to schedule a tabletop exercise to familiarize their staff with emergency response.