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Learn How to Design a Tabletop Exercise

The purpose of a tabletop exercise (TTX) is to test existing plans, policies or procedures needed to guide the response to a simulated incident. TTXs try to facilitate an understanding of concepts or plans, identify strengths and areas for improvement and/or enhance coordination both within an organization and among responding agencies. During a TTX, participants:

  • • Identify strengths and shortfalls of emergency response plans and procedures
  • • Enhance understanding of utility and response partner roles and responsibilities
  • • Discuss roles and responsibilities as outlined in response procedures
  • • Enhance understanding of new concepts and information flow (communication pathways)

TTXs require an experienced facilitator who can encourage in-depth discussion and help participants to make decisions through slow-paced problem-solving rather than the rapid, spontaneous decision-making that occurs under actual or simulated emergency conditions. The facilitator can design the TTX, but an Exercise Design Team (EDT) can also be convened to assist with planning. The main responsibilities of the EDT are to identify exercise objectives, design the scenario, create exercise documents, coordinate logistics, plan for exercise conduct and set the focus for exercise evaluation and improvement planning.