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Preparing Scotland Exercise Guidance

November 2022



Annex A

Types of Exercises: Pros and Cons Matrix

Annex B

Exercise Checklist

Annex C

Scenario Considerations

Annex D

Exercise Risk Assessment

Annex E

Health and Safety Considerations

Annex F

Exercise Instruction

Annex G

Essential Briefing Points

Annex H

Main Event List

Annex I

Participant Response Sheet

Annex J

Exercise Debrief Format

Annex K

Post Exercise Report


Annex A – Types of Exercise (Discussion, Table Top, Command/Control Post, and Live): ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons' Matrix






  • In-depth examination of a scenario
  • Done in stages
  • To illustrate characteristics of a crisis
  • Classroom setting and facilitated
  • Same or mixed skills and experience groups
  • Feedback from groups
  • Easy to write
  • Quick to organise
  • Cheap
  • Can facilitate large numbers
  • Good evaluation tool
  • Good teaching tool
  • Good development tool
  • Individual roles not under pressure
  • Discussion not reality
  • Evaluates broad principles only
  • Not real time

Table Top

  • Use of map, simulation or model of an area, building etc
  • Assigned roles
  • Decide on actions to take
  • Can be single service or multi- agency
  • Exercise driver/facilitator
  • Interactive
  • Puts individuals and teams under pressure
  • Understanding of roles and responsibilities
  • More realistic than a discussion exercise
  • Increased preparation (time and costs)
  • Fewer can be involved at one time

Command/ Control Post

  • Training for command teams
  • In control room or simulation cell
  • Messages fed in by exercise control
  • Management of information
  • Decision making in a crisis
  • Can involve multiple agencies/departments
  • Can test different levels of command
  • Tests equipment and facilities
  • Pressure on team and team leader
  • Tests information management
  • Tests decision making
  • Can test communication and coordination
  • Realism
  • Cost effective
  • Time/costs of producing the scenario/ injects
  • Exercise control required
  • No operational staff involved
  • Limited realism







  • Full scale exercise of a plan
  • Real time deployment
  • Multi-agency involvement, including operational staff
  • Deployment of equipment
  • Period of a day or more
  • Complete check of operation plan
  • Highlights multi-agency communications and coordination issues
  • Highlights response issues
  • Highlights equipment issues
  • Cost of development and management
  • Commitment of agencies involved
  • Disruption to organisations
  • Confidentiality
  • Complexity
  • Debriefing
  • Health and safety

Cranfield University: An Introduction to Crisis Management Exercise Development & Design


Annex B – Exercise Checklist









Identify the requirement for an exercise






Assemble an exercise planning team






Agree the overall aim and objectives






Provide notification as per organisational and RRP arrangements, and organise date of exercise.






Consider lessons from previous exercises






Agree the scenario that will meet the aim and objectives.






Consider financial issues






Carry out a health and safety risk assessment, and an equalities impact assessment.






Identify directing staff, umpires and observers






Agree appropriate participation






Sketch out and then develop the main events list and associated timeline.






Determine and confirm the availability of other organisations/groups to be involved, such as the media.






Ensure that pre-exercise briefings have been developed, and are under appropriate ownership.






Ensure that all logistics issues have been addressed






Ensure that all health, safety and welfare matters have been addressed.






Warn the local media, emergency services switchboards/controls and any neighbours who might be worried or affected by the exercise.






Ensure that all participants are clearly identifiable






If spectators are to be invited, including the media, ensure that they are clearly identified and properly marshalled, and arrange for them to be kept informed of the progress of the exercise. Ensure their safety.






Ensure that senior management, directing staff, umpires and key

players are aware of the time and location for the ‘hot’ debrief.






Arrange payment of additional resources






Allow for single-agency debriefs to be conducted and feedback organised.






Conduct a ‘cold’ debrief






Agree and prepare a detailed set of recommendations, each one accompanied by an action owner and timescale.






Prepare a clear and concise summary report of the exercise to distribute to all organisations and groups which took part, together with major recommendations.






Ensure that all relevant individuals/groups have a copy of the exercise report.






Thank all personnel and organisations/groups that take part.






Annex C – Scenario Considerations

A realistic scenario should be developed to ensure that all participants will take the exercise seriously. The exercise should also have a realistic timescale.

It should include:

  • Day, date and time
  • Nature of incident (consistent with exercise location)


Other considerations might be:

  • Weather conditions including wind speed and direction
  • Visibility
  • Traffic conditions
  • Progression of incident (e.g. different phases)
  • People involved (e.g. vulnerable, young, elderly)


It is important that the scenario is not overly detailed with assumptions as it may result in the associated plan becoming too inflexible to deal with the unforeseen incidents of reality.


Top Tips:
  • Use the experience of others
  • Make use of materials from previous exercises
  • Check newspapers/the media/the internet for scenario ideas



A decision to be made at an early stage is whether the exercise will flow in real time or consist of ‘snapshots’ i.e. a series of descriptions of how the scenario has progressed over time. For example, participants may spend a relatively short time considering the immediate actions to be taken before moving to a scenario ‘x hours in’ so that recovery issues can be considered. See below for further information on recovery exercises.

Care should be taken in time-lapse exercises to ensure all participants are aware of “Exercise time”. Objectives can be disrupted or false learning identified through confusion or a lack of alignment between the different groups or locations in an exercise.


Controlled or Free Play

In controlled exercises, the scenario and all events or incidents are pre-scripted.

The evolution of the exercise is tightly managed. This can be a very thorough way of testing specific aspects but may not evaluate whether a plan is sufficiently flexible to deal with the unexpected.

Free play exercises are much more spontaneous. Once the opening scenario has been established, the participants’ actions dictate subsequent events. This requires a large directing staff, a comprehensive scenario and access to much more background information. Although these can be stimulating in terms of realism and having to cope with the unexpected, it is possible that whole areas of a plan which require validation may be by-passed.

It is possible to combine control with free play in order to test both the degree of flexibility of the plan and the validity of any pre-identified aspects.



Dealing with the media is a major part of responding to any incident and therefore should be practised as often as possible. The exercise planners could deploy student journalists or reporters from local media to test different agencies’ response to the media. For major exercises, a representative from the national media should be invited to attend. Exercise press conferences and interviews can be used to test the knowledge of the combined response.

Replicating Social Media feeds through a dedicated exercise website can be a very useful way of injecting public reaction and stimulating public communication messages.



The learning from recovery exercises has shown that:

  • In light of the cross-cutting nature of recovery, as wide a range of participants as possible should be involved in recovery exercises. From the Category 1 and 2 organisations this may include representation from social services, elected members, Railway Care teams. Other representation may cover Chambers of Commerce, community groups, faith leaders and possibly individual businesses. Invitation lists can be compiled based on those organisations detailed in the Recovery Plan. It is important that exercises are written to cover issues relevant to all organisations present, or else attendees may feel they have not benefited from attendance and it may be difficult to obtain their input at future events.
  • It is difficult to reflect the true nature of recovery in an exercise, as in reality the recovery stage may last for years whereas an exercise normally only lasts for a day or two. This can be overcome by:
    • Holding a number of exercises to represent various stages of the recovery phase. These may be split by time (5 days after the incident, 2 weeks after, 2 months after etc), or by key milestones (prior to clean-up, once clean-up is complete etc)
    • Running one exercise but using ‘time-lapse’ at points during the day
  • Whatever the approach, there needs to be a comprehensive pre-briefing which summarises the scenario and the decisions that have been taken during the response phase. This will help to ensure that players remain focussed on recovery issues. Consideration may be given to running recovery exercises on the back of response exercises.
  • There is considerable benefit in exercising the handover phase from response to recovery so that the criteria that would be used to determine the right time for handover to take place and the handover processes themselves can be tested. This aspect can clearly be covered in both response and recovery exercises.
  • As with response exercises, the scenarios used in recovery exercises should be prioritised in line with the key risks in the Risk and Preparedness Assessments (RPAs). However, Regional Resilience Partnerships (RRPs) may wish to adjust scenarios to ensure they test out those particular aspects of recovery which have been found to be weak/a gap in incidents and exercises elsewhere.
  • The use of scenarios that result in recovery coordination being required across local authority or RRP/LRP boundaries are encouraged in order to explore the effectiveness of cross-boundary recovery structures and processes.
  • Testing mutual aid arrangements, particularly between local authorities, is beneficial.


Annex D – Exercise Risk Assessment

This template is for the exercise as a whole. It is fully expected that individual organisations will have their own local methodology to risk assess for their own players.

Preparation for Exercise – Risk Assessment


Hazards identified
(step 1)

Existing controls
(step 2)

Residual risk acceptable?
Y/N (step 3)

Additional controls required
(step 4)

Residual risk acceptable?
Y/N (step 3)




















Exercise Day - Risk Assessment


Hazards identified
(step 1)

Existing controls
(step 2)

Residual risk acceptable?

(step 3)

Additional controls required
(step 4)

Residual risk acceptable?

(step 3)




















Note: Category* – Enter one of Infrastructure; Personnel; Location; Weather


Annex E – Health and Safety Considerations


The safety of personnel during the exercise is of paramount importance. In live exercises, all participants (including exercise directors, umpires, volunteers and observers) should be made aware of any hazards within the area and reminded of safety issues. Exercise participants may not be familiar with the location and control may be needed to ensure that players are kept within the confines of the exercise area.

Before a live exercise, a safety audit should be completed to ensure that structures are safe and no unseen dangers are present on the site. A safety officer must attend the exercise to ensure that all participants comply with the safety requirements and do not place themselves, or others, in danger.

First aid/ambulance cover should be provided to deal with any health problems or injuries sustained during the exercise. For safety reasons, exercise directors should adopt an agreed procedure for intervention into the exercise. The planning group should devise a codeword for this purpose and the means of relaying it to those participants without radio communication.



Welfare needs vary depending on the type, timing and duration of the exercise. You may need to provide refreshments, changing, washing and toilet facilities before, during, or after the event. The use of casualties adds to the realism of exercises but their welfare needs to be taken into account, they should not be placed in unsuitable conditions e.g. cold, wet or hard surfaces without appropriate care.



Exercises may be given a codename which should then be mandatory as a prefix to all messages (verbal or written) during the exercise. The use of codenames will ensure that everyone involved is aware that they are part of the exercise and not a real incident. Control Rooms/Operation Centres of all participating organisations must be informed about the codename prior to the exercise.

A codeword which can be used to identify that a real incident has occurred and is not part of the exercise, should be agreed and circulated to all participants prior to the event. This could also be used if there are real casualties during the exercise, the most commonly used example is ‘SAFEGUARD’.


Public Information

The exercise planning group should agree whether there should be any prior publicity. It may be advisable to issue public information to members of the public in the vicinity of the exercise to prevent any undue alarm, particularly for exercises at hazardous sites. However, this may attract a crowd of uninvited spectators.

‘Exercise in Progress’ signs may be strategically positioned. This can detract from the realism but reassures the public or uninvolved agencies, particularly in sensitive areas.

If public information is issued, the participants may also find out about the exercise and this could affect realism. The group may consider issuing information by letter to the public on the day of the exercise. Details for the media could be embargoed until the day of the exercise.


Annex F – Exercise Instruction Guidelines

Below are suggested paragraph headings for an Exercise Instruction. Please tailor the paragraphs to meet the needs of the different groups requiring an Exercise Instruction. For example, the Exercise Instruction for those running the exercise will be a lot more detailed than the Exercise Instruction for those being exercised.


Exercise Name and Date

A short paragraph putting the exercise into context by referring to the pre-exercise training of the agencies and individuals involved, the exercise calendar or series to which it belongs and the timescale.



The overall aim of the exercise.


Objectives and Success Criteria

A list of the exercise objectives, and how each will be measured.



A short paragraph detailing the scope of the exercise.



Details of debrief dates, times and locations, and anticipated publication date of the post exercise report. It should include detail of expected representation at any such meetings.



The delivery paragraph is a description of the exercise expressed under a number of sub headings. Specific details such as timings and movement etc should be omitted from the text of the various headings and taken forward to the coordinating instructions paragraph. The paragraph headings are as follows.



A list of the agencies, groups and key personnel taking part. A separate graphic may show how the relationship of the various participants in the context of the exercise. The communications map may be included in this graphic.



A short introduction of the scenario. The scenario should be realistic, believable and easily understood. The main scenario will be attached as an annex.



This paragraph allows the exercise staff to offer an explanation as to how each of the main activities will be conducted. This paragraph may introduce new processes, procedures or ideas. The details should be attached as an annex.


Conduct of the Exercise

A short explanation of how the exercise will be run, including key locations. This paragraph will introduce the Main Events List and Timeline which will be attached as an annex.


Programme and Coordinating Instructions

The programme gives an outline of the dates and timings for the entire exercise (including pre-exercise briefings etc). It may be expressed in the form of a table. Any detail relating to movement and the coordination of phases can also be included here.


Exercise Support

The exercise support paragraph contains details of all of the logistical matters. It is comprised of a number of sub headings including:

  • Real Estate
  • Property
  • Welfare Support
  • Equipment
  • Non-operational movement support
  • Medical Support
  • Health and Safety
  • Dress Code


Control and Communications

The Control and Communications paragraph contains details of how those participating will communicate as well as how the exercise will be managed and controlled. It may contain the following headings.


Exercise Staff

A list of the names of the following individuals:

  • Exercise Sponsor
  • Exercise Director
  • Exercise Planner/Planning Team and division of responsibility


Exercise Control Staff

A list of the names of the following individuals:

  • Exercise Controller
  • Exercise Facilitators
  • Umpires
  • Safety Staff


Communications Plan

The communications plan is expressed as a number of sub-headings detailing how the various groups taking part or controlling the exercise will communicate. It will contain details of the following:

  • The start and end of the exercise
  • The communications systems being use by the various agencies or groups
  • The interoperability issues of the various systems
  • The communications map (usually attached as an Annex)
  • Details of how the communications systems have been replicated or simulated
  • Details of what technical support being provided during the exercise and who will provide it
  • Specific constraints effecting communications
  • Contact List


Media Operations

The media sub heading will contain details of the media plan including:

  • The name of the individual leading on the media operations
  • The media strategy for the exercise
  • Coordination of media operations across agencies
  • Media Aim and Objectives
  • Key Messages
  • Details of planned releases
  • Details of how reactive releases will be dealt with
  • Freedom of Information Requests
  • Prepared Questions and Answers



This paragraph should include detail of all codewords and their intended meaning. The following is an example and can be provided as an annex to the final document.



The use of Codewords will ensure that everyone involved is aware that they are part of the Exercise and not a real incident. Each organisation will ensure that all personnel and in particular Control Room operators are aware of the Codewords prior to the Exercise.

The ‘Safeguard’ codeword will be used to identify that a real incident has occurred within Exercise Play.

The following Codewords will be used:

Start of Exercise

“Exercise (name) Startex”

Suspension of Exercise

“Exercise (name) Hold”

Resumption of Exercise

“Exercise (name) Resume”

Real Incident outwith exercise play

“Exercise (name) Safeguard” (Red card)

End of Exercise

“Exercise (name) Endex”

Radio communications and messages going outwith exercise play

“Exercise (name) (message) Exercise Exercise”


Safeguard Card

It is important to note that if players are requested by any umpire or agency representative to stop playing to facilitate the smooth running of the exercise, that a correct form of words is used.

The following term indicates that players will stop playing: “Please step out of role”.

On commencement of play the following term should be used: “Please commence role play”.

In addition to the above procedure all players will be issued with a Safeguard Card. This card is only to be used in the event of genuine injury or illness in the course of exercise play. The card should be held up and the word Safeguard shouted.


Administration and Personnel


A list of the documentation issued in relation to the exercise.



A list of all of the individual participants being exercised (as far as is practicable).



A list of observers.


Post Exercise Report Details


  • Who will be responsible for writing the report
  • How data will be collected
  • How the report will compiled
  • The arrangements for the Post Exercise Report conference
  • Specific inputs required by individuals
  • When the Post Exercise Report will be published



Annexes allow the finite detail required by the various parties to be included in the exercise instruction without clogging the main document. It also allows information concerned with the control of the exercise to be withheld from those who do require it.

Possible annexes which may be included are:

  • Scenario
  • Main Events List
  • Timeline
  • Equipment
  • Map List
  • Route Maps
  • Communications Plan
  • Communications Map
  • Contact list of directing staff and umpires
  • Codewords
  • Media Plan
  • Detailed Timings
  • Welfare Plan
  • Health and Safety Risk Assessment and Method Statement
  • Dress Code
  • Glossary of Terms


Exercise Name

The exercise name should be used as a prefix on all written, radio and telephone messages relating to the exercise.

Location of



Date & Start Time


Approx Exercise



Agency Participation:


Exercise Scenario will involve:

☐ A COMAH / contingency plan site
☐ Simulated casualties
☐ Hazardous substances
☐ Simulated Hazardous substances

☐ Fire
☐ Simulated fire/smoke (please indicate)
☐ Smoke
☐ Effects toxic/harmless (please indicate)



Safety Officer will be present and identified by:


Exercise Director will be present and identified by:


Exercise Observers will/will not be present/ identified by:



Any concerns regarding personal health and safety or the health and safety of others during the exercise should be drawn to the attention of the Safety Officer or Exercise Director immediately. An assessment will be made as to whether the exercise can continue.

If a genuine injury is sustained (as opposed to a simulated injury) use and repeat the codeword to attract attention. Under no circumstances should these words be used by role playing casualties.

Notification of exercise suspension/abandonment/completion will be given by: (codewords or audible signals)


*Health and safety risk assessment has been undertaken on …………. by ………………….

and Health & Safety Advisor ………………………… and your attention is drawn to:

No radios (intrinsically safe only)


No mobile phones


No pagers

No matches or lighters


Protective Clothing



Prohibited Areas

Fire Evacuation



First Aid Facilities


Physical Hazards

Other risks/ issues:

Questions raised relevant to health and safety - must be fully recorded. (To include by whom, full question, response given and by whom)








Any participants who wish to raise concerns about personal health and safety or pose questions relevant to health and safety after this briefing but before the exercise, should see ………………. or their line manager. All questions and responses must be recorded and forwarded to the Exercise Planning Team.

* A ‘health and safety risk assessment’ of the planned exercise is essential good practice. The method to undertake this should be an early consideration of the Exercise Planning Group. Each participating organisation must assess whether there is a need for an individual assessment or whether one agency should undertake the risk assessment and share information with other participating agencies.


Annex H – Sample Main Events List

Inject No.



Assumed to Be





T+ 00:04

Directing staff



Airport Police now arrived at RVP and receiving update message from Security.

Police Exercise Control contact RVP and confirm that officers are in attendance if not already notified.


T+ 00:08


Member of Public

Police - RVP

Witness reports a small aircraft crashing into sea.

(Notionally Via 999) Police Exercise control to inform
Police at RVP.


T+ 00:08

Exercise Control

Force Overview


Asking for an update from attending officers.

Phone RVP number – ask to speak to RVP officer as Duty Officer Force Overview.


17:59 T+ 00:09

Aircraft Commander


Air Traffic Control Watch Manager

Confirm aircraft collision with light aircraft. Incident upgraded to Aircraft Accident.

Exercise Control to monitor radio transmission for confirmation.
















Annex I – Participant Response Sheet











Name (optional)




Role in the Exercise



Please provide detail of 3 positive aspects of the exercise

















Please provide detail of 3 aspects of the exercise that you feel did not work well















What areas of improvement are there, regarding:

a) Your specific role











b) The exercise generally











Have you identified any training needs from this event? If yes, please specify.




Annex J – Exercise Debrief Format

  • Introductions
  • Alarms/Fire/First Aid/Toilets
  • Use of Mobile Phones/Pagers
  • Debrief Aim
  • Big Picture context - i.e. why are we doing this debrief


Establish how the debrief will be conducted and/or ground rules – for example:

  • The debrief will concentrate on key issues and priorities not an extensive list from each participant but if they have extra issues they can email (provide contact details)
  • Respect the views of other participants
  • Participants need to be as frank and open as possible


Confirm the outcomes of this debrief and feedback to participants


Three negative aspects of the exercise to be provided by each attendee


Three positive aspects of the exercise from each attendee


Learning points


For example:

  • The most significant thing that I have learnt is…
  • If I was responsible for the next exercise I would recommend …
  • If I was responsible for the plan my 2 priorities would be…
  • My greatest concern is…


  • Thank participants for their contributions
  • Reminder: Additional debrief points can be emailed to (contact details)
  • Reminder: Outcomes of this debrief and feedback to participants


Annex K – Post Exercise Report


Operator/ Location


Exercise Date


Exercise Type



Yes No

Exercise Name


Lead Officer


Report Author

Name and Organisation



Executive Summary

A brief summary of exercise, the key recommendations and salient issues should be included here.











1. Basic Details

This section should detail the information provided in Section 2 of the Exercise

Planning Document, including:

  • Exercise Aim and Objectives
  • Overview of the scenario
  • Scale of the exercise
  • Scope of the exercise
  • Level of play (strategic, tactical, operational)
  • Participants, and
  • Type of exercise and method of deliver
2. Evaluation Section
2.1 Assessment of Overall Objectives

Exercise Name


Success Criteria

Demonstration ofSuccess

Evaluation Method

Objective Achieved?
2 = Fully Met;
1 = Partly Met;
0 = Not Met



























2.2 Operational Lessons Identified and Recommendations for Action

Lesson Identified

Who should this lesson apply to?

Level of Operation
Is the lesson aimed at Strategic, Tactical or Operational?


Suggested Owner

Target Date

Red/ Amber/ Green

1. Activation Notification Issues









2. Command, Control and Co-ordination Issues









3. Inter-agency Communication Issues









4. Public Communication Issues









5. Plan Issues









6. Resource Issues










7. Care for People Issues









8. Environment Issues









9. Training Issues









10. Recovery Issues









11. Other Issues










2.3. Exercise Planning and Delivery Lessons Identified and Recommendations for Action

Lesson Identified

lesson applies to?

Level of Operation
Strategic/Tactical/ Operational?


Suggested Owner

Target Date

Red/Amber/ Green

1. Exercise Sponsorship & Ownership









2. Aim & Objective Setting









3. Exercise Administration









4. Scenario Development









5. Participant Buy-in /Perceptions









6. Venue









7. Exercise Play/Dynamics









8. Exercise Control









9. Evaluation and Delivering Procedures










3. Summary


















Circulation of Report (this should include all attendee organisations)
























Other documentation

E.g. Exercise Risk Assessment; Exercise Costing Template, observer notes, timelines etc.

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