Does your organization have an emergency operations or continuity plan? If so, when was the last time you pulled it from the shelf or opened the file, and reviewed its contents? More importantly, when was the last time you actually tested the plan, or made modifications to it? If you’re unsure about the answer, it’s probably been too long. At BOLDplanning, we recommend reviewing your emergency operations or continuity plan once per year at a minimum; every six months if possible.

Sound unrealistic or unachievable? It’s not. The following five training and testing activities (all of which are approved by FEMA’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program) can help you reach, and more importantly, maintain the level of preparedness your organization needs or desires. And, they can do so with less time, fewer resources and oftentimes, smaller amounts of money than you may think.

  1. Seminars – These no-cost, informal discussions are designed to orient participants to new or updated plans, policies, or procedures.
  2.  Workshops – These brief and easily coordinated activities are similar to seminars, but are intended to build specific products, such as a draft plan, or a regular training and exercise schedule.
  3. Tabletop Exercises – These low-stress, no-to-low cost and conversation-based exercises are led by a facilitator who guides team members through discussions pertaining to their role(s) in one or more scenarios.
  4. Functional Exercises – These medium-stress, operations-based exercises require personnel to perform their duties in a simulated environment in order to validate plans and organizational readiness.
  5. Full-scale Exercises – These complex, high-stress and oftentimes costly exercises are operations-based, and involve the movement of personnel and resources to validate plans, policies and procedures.

Such exercises, as expressed by FEMA, provide elected and appointed officials, and stakeholders from across the whole community, with the opportunity to shape planning, assess and validate capabilities, and address areas for improvement. In other words, they are invaluable to your organization’s overall readiness and resilience efforts.  

Having developed over 10,000 emergency operations, continuity and mitigation plans, and facilitated thousands of small-to-large-scale exercises, BOLDplanning knows all too well the numerous benefits of such training and testing activities. Time and again, we have watched our public and private sector clients gain vastly improved and consistently up-to-date plans. More importantly, we have watched them gain the confidence to successfully execute those plans at a moment’s notice.

At BOLDplanning, we believe that perfect (and regular) practice really does make for perfect—or darn close to it—performance in an actual disruption. Let us help make your next emergency preparedness exercise easier and more effective. Simply call 615.469.5558 or email Our growing team of accredited planning professionals and FEMA certified Master Exercise Practitioners (MEP) are always ready to assist.

Be prepared. Be BOLD.