You should conduct testing and exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of your preparedness program, make sure employees know what to do and find any missing parts. There are many benefits to testing and exercises:
- Train personnel; clarify roles and responsibilities
- Reinforce knowledge of procedures, facilities, systems and equipment
- Improve individual performance as well as organizational coordination and communications
- Evaluate policies, plans, procedures and the knowledge and skills of team members
- Reveal weaknesses and resource gaps
- Comply with local laws, codes and regulations
- Gain recognition for the emergency management and business continuity program
Testing the Plan
When you hear the word “testing,” you probably think about a pass/fail evaluation. You may find that there are parts of your preparedness program that will not work in practice. Consider a recovery strategy that requires relocating to another facility and configuring equipment at that facility. Can equipment at the alternate facility be configured in time to meet the planned recovery time objective? Can alarm systems be heard and understood throughout the building to warn all employees to take protective action? Can members of emergency response or business continuity teams be alerted to respond in the middle of the night? Testing is necessary to determine whether or not the various parts of the preparedness program will work.
When you think about exercises, physical fitness to improve strength, flexibility and overall health comes to mind. Exercising the preparedness program helps to improve the overall strength of the preparedness program and the ability of team members to perform their roles and to carry out their responsibilities. There are several different types of exercises that can help you to evaluate your program and its capability to protect your employees, facilities, business operations, and the environment.