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Preparing Scotland

September 2018

3. Exercise Activity

3. Exercise Activity

Exercise Build Up

Exercise Main Pia

Closing Pia

Exercise Build Up

The method of briefing depends on the type of exercise and the exercise aim. As a general rule it is advisable that each agency’s representative on the exercise planning group takes responsibility for briefing their staff who are involved in exercise play, as well as providing their own staff with comprehensive exercise and joining instructions. A briefing must take place at a time close to the exercise (i.e. not more than one month beforehand). Further briefing may be required on arrival at the exercise location.

Other final arrangements should be put in place so that all possible measures have been taken to ensure that the exercise itself is not compromised. The following are examples of what may be included:



Discussion/ Table Top

Command/ Control Post


Players briefed

Scene set (e.g. casualties made up and in place)



Observers briefed

Directing staff briefed, and in position

Directing staff suitably identifiable (e.g. tabards)


First aid support in place and identifiable



Welfare arrangements in place


Media arrangements made


Communication checks complete


Scenario ‘items/materials’ (e.g. aeroplane) guaranteed or an alternative scenario prepared



Room layout and environment checked



All necessary equipment (e.g. paper, pens, audio visual) available




As part of Health and Safety good practice it is recommended that a signed log is kept of the people that have been briefed and a note of whom they were briefed by.

On occasion ‘no notice’ or ‘cold start’ exercises will take place. These are events where players are asked to participate with little or no notice. These exercises are a useful way of evaluating the ability of responders to mobilise resources to deal with an incident. Even in cold start exercises however some form of build-up is often necessary as, for example, directing staff need to get into position before players are called out.



Annex G - Essential Briefing Points


Exercise Build Up

Exercise Main Pia

Closing Pia


Exercise Main Play


The main play phase of the exercise is when the key activities on the Main Events List (MEL) and most of the assessment work will be carried out. The tempo and coordination of all activity is managed by exercise control.

The communications plan should make reference to words for controlling play, e.g.




Exercise “Exercise Name”


Used to temporarily suspend the exercise in the event of a player becoming injured

Exercise “Exercise Name"

No Duff No Duff

Used when providing real information rather than an exercise related inject

Exercise “Exercise Name"


Exercise termination

Exercise “Exercise Name


Exercise completion by the Exercise Director. All participants should complete their section of the exercise before its completion and it may be necessary to stagger the end of the exercise for different locations.



Before each event is played it is important that exercise control ensure that:

  • The Directing Staff are in place
  • Those being exercised are in place
  • Directing Staff are aware of:
    • When the event will be triggered
    • How the event will be triggered
    • How long the event will last
    • The activity used to indicate that the event has finished, and
    • The assessment criteria.


Exercise Main Play

It is advisable to set out all the main and predictable events to be covered in the exercise into a main events list.

Annex H – Sample Main Events List



Much of the work required to coordinate this phase can be completed before the exercise starts. However, given the complex nature of civil contingency exercising, the number of different agencies that may be involved and the communications architecture, a great deal of activity will require to be ‘directed’ by exercise control as a reaction to the outcome of previous events. The key to the success of this phase is the continuous passage of information between Directing Staff and exercise control. This enables exercise control to be fully informed of the situation on the ground (exercise play) and manage the exercise, and input of injects, accordingly.



The process of assessment is continuous throughout this phase. The most important element of assessment is recording the outcome of events as close as possible to those being exercised, probably through the use of umpires.

This process will rely on the measurement and success criteria that have been laid out at the beginning of the planning process. Assessment can be fed into a central point throughout the course of the exercise or, records of the outcomes of events could be retained by the Directing Staff (Umpires) on the ground and centralised on completion of the whole exercise. Assessment is made against criteria set out before the exercise starts and may be recorded on pre-prepared paperwork or IT systems.


Exercise Build Up

Exercise Main Pia

Closing Pia


Closing Play

The purpose of this phase is to ensure that the exercise closes in a controlled fashion with all of the key objectives having been tested and assessed. The decision to call the ‘end of exercise’ (EndEx) is made by the Exercise Controller in conjunction with the Exercise Director and other key staff.

This period can be used to concentrate Directing Staff efforts on those objectives that have not yet been fully explored or confirm evidence already collected.

It is important that activities during the period immediately after the end of the exercise have been planned to ensure that participants understand that although the activity has ceased the exercise is not complete until all of the relevant information has been collected through debriefs.


Hot Debrief

As soon as is practicable after the end of the exercise everyone involved should be debriefed to gather feedback on any pressing matters that cannot wait until the cold debrief. The debriefing should include those taking part in the exercise as well as those controlling it, and they may be conducted in groups or individually. This is often achieved through the use of an exercise evaluation/ participant response form.

An example of a Participant Response Form is shown in Annex I. This can be replaced with any suitable method for collecting the views and experiences of participants.

Annex I - Participant Response Form

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