Being prepared to respond to and recover from emergencies is a challenge. Most communities have plans in place that specify how to respond to a variety of disasters and emergencies. Testing those emergency plans is important. By exercising emergency plans, participants can identify areas that work well and those that need improvement. Lessons learned from exercises can be used to revise operational plans and provide a basis for training to improve proficiency in executing those plans. There are several types of exercises that are used in emergency management. Those exercises include tabletops, functional and full-scale exercises. For additional information, please contact Kevin Wernet, Training and Exercise Supervisor, at  or 608-242-3331.

Tabletop Exercise

A tabletop exercise simulates an emergency situation in an informal, stress-free environment. The participants, usually people on a decision-making level, gather around a table to discuss general problems and procedures in the context of an emergency scenario. The focus is on training and familiarization with roles, procedures, or responsibilities. 

Functional Exercise

The functional exercise simulates an emergency in the most realistic manner possible, short of moving real people and equipment to an actual site. As the name suggests, its goal is to test or evaluate the capability of one or more functions in the context of an emergency event. Controllers and simulators inject messages to exercise participants via telephone, fax, and written copy. 

Full-Scale Exercise

Full-Scale Exercise - A full-scale exercise is as close to the real thing as possible. It is a lengthy exercise which involves numerous agencies participating and using the equipment and personnel that would be called upon in a real event. The full-scale exercise may be held at several locations. Firefighters may rescue "victims", police block traffic, EMS transfer "victims" to area hospitals, etc. Usually the Emergency Operations Center is also activated in the exercise.
Exercise Reporting Documents