The National Preparedness System diagram. Encircling the diagram is "Whole Community", "National Incident Management System (NIMS)", "Core Capabilities"Identifying & Assessing Risk Estimating Capability Requirements Building & Sustaining Capabilities Planning to Deliver Capabilities Validating Capabilities Reviewing & Updating


Now it is time to see if your preparedness activities are working as intended. Participating in exercises, simulations or other activities helps you identify gaps in your plans and capabilities. It also helps you see progress toward meeting preparedness goals.

Exercises are conducted to test and validate plans and capabilities. An effective and comprehensive exercise program that includes active collaboration with the whole community is essential to the success of the National Preparedness System. The National Exercise Program (NEP) serves as the principal exercise mechanism for examining national preparedness and measuring readiness.

Exercise Tools

FEMA provides several tools to aid communities in the planning and conduct of exercises.

Exercise Cycle with four primary steps: Design and Development, Conduct, Evaluation, and Improvement Planning. Program Management overarches these four steps.

  • Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP) Resources – Through the use of standardized templates, exercise program managers can develop, execute, and evaluate exercises that address the priorities established by an organization's leaders.

  • Exercise Management – FEMA provides a web-based tool for select communities to use in planning, conducting, and evaluating their exercises consistent with HSEEP.

  • Hazard Explorer - FEMA provides a suite of location-enabled tools and resources that support integrating geospatial information into exercises that ensure data analysis informs exercise planning.

Preparedness Cycle Diagram - Exercise to Evaluate/Improve to Plan to Organize/Equip to Train


Links to the Preparedness Cycle:

Exercise: A key activity in validating capabilities is exercising those capabilities. Exercises enable organizations to identify strengths and incorporate them within best practices to sustain and enhance their capabilities. They also provide an objective assessment of gaps and shortfalls within plans, policies and procedures.