Emergency Exercises services

Cascade Facilities Management Consultants Ltd offers both “Tabletop” and “Live” Exercises to bring a dose of reality to emergency planning.


Has your School District or College seriously considered its responsibilities to care for students and staff during a disaster during school hours?

If you have a plan, is it known and understood by all staff?

Do the management staff understand their responsibility to run an Emergency Operations Centre during the crisis until such time as municipal authorities are able to take over the care of stranded students and staff?

Cascade Facilities Management Consultants can run an Earthquake Emergency Exercise of limited scope and short duration in your district or campus.  It would be intended to involve key decision-making management staff including Superintendent’s Office, Purchasing, Finance, and Personnel departments as well as the Facilities or Maintenance Department.  The purpose is to help staff to understand their roles and responsibilities during the emergency situation following a significant earthquake.   If feasible, the exercise can include participation by several selected schools or departments.

An example of the scope and timing of a school district exercise:

1.  Scenario – an earthquake has occurred and there is damage at schools and other buildings.  Roads and communications are affected.  It is a school day afternoon and the weather is cold and raining.

2.  Timing – 2 hour exercise from 2 pm to 4 pm on a school day.  The Board meeting room would be required for the exercise.

3.  Participation

(a)  Key decision-makers from the Superintendent’s Office, Finance, Personnel, Purchasing, and Facilities would participate.  With the assistance of clerical staff, they would track reports of the status of district schools including condition of students, staff, and the facilities.  They would make decisions such as:  seeking emergency response from the municipality (fire, ambulance, and police), evacuating schools, releasing students, sending students to shelters or to another school, busing, and school closures.

(b)  All day shift maintenance employees would participate.  Maintenance would have sealed envelopes which would be opened at the advised exercise start time.  The envelopes will tell them the situation they face (at a school, or on the road, or at the shops) and they will simulate reacting appropriately and attempting to communicate situation reports to the Maintenance Shop.  At the Maintenance Office, status boards would be filled in and reporting carried out to the Board Office regarding the condition of various schools.

(c)  At the Board Office,  staff would be receiving information from Maintenance,  from any participating schools or simulated schools, from simulated city staff, and from simulated members of the public. The information would be entered on status boards in the Board Room and marked on a school district map.  Simulated assistance requests would be made to the municipality and to other agencies or suppliers as circumstances dictated.  You may wish to exercise the handling of student information phone calls from (simulated) frantic parents – this could be created if desired.

(d)  Further it might be worthwhile to involve perhaps three schools in the exercise.  We only see three or four school staff members playing in the exercise, not the teachers and students, although more participation can be arranged to suit your needs.

(e)  Media.  The local media will definitely have a role in a real emergency situation, seeking information from the Superintendent.  This will be simulated.  However if you want to invite the local media to the exercise, you may.

(f)  Municipality.  It is recommended that the municipality be invited to observe and comment on the exercise, but there would not be any other involvement.  We would simulate sending a school district liaison person to the municipal Emergency Operations Centre and communicating our emergency needs to them.  The exercise will clarify the roles of the municipality and the school district during a disaster during school hours.


Cascade also offers emergency training and exercises to Facilities or Maintenance Departments.  Although the exercise can be customized in any way to suit your organization, responsibilities, and budget,  an example of the possible exercise scope is as follows:

The School District Facilities Department would experience the following 3 to 4 hour training:

  • Maintenance workers would first have a 30 minute orientation (power point) followed by question and answer;
  • Then a simulated emergency situation would be established whereby some of the workers would be placed in pairs (out of sight of other teams) in various places around the maintenance yard.  These workers are simulating being out in maintenance vehicles en route to school sites or at school sites.  If we place them initially in a vehicle, it is simulated that they are on the road traveling between school sites.  If we place them in one of the shops,  it is simulated that they are at a school or other district facility.  The associate from Cascade would issue pre-determined verbal or written scenarios telling them what school they are at,  what conditions are like after the earthquake, and what they are trying to do there,  or that they are on the road trying to get to a particular school (successfully or not).  They will be radioing or phoning into the Facilities EOC, reporting what they are observing or doing at the schools or on the road, and seeking direction.
  • The remaining workers are in the maintenance yard area available for assignment.  The assignments are up to management as the situation in the schools becomes clearer.  Facilities Management would probably send some of them to get needed post-earthquake supplies out of the emergency kiosk and other supply points, and others might be assigned to load one or more vehicles with equipment to go to needed schools.  There will be simulated earthquake damage and injuries in the maintenance complex.
  • The Facilities Department will want to set up and operate the departmental EOC so they will have information displayed and can make decisions regarding deployment or re-assignment of workers.  Some workers may be needed to get this departmental EOC set up and operating effectively.  As schools start asking for help, management will simulate sending some of these workers out to schools (at which time they will report to Cascade to get information).
  • The simulated post-earthquake chaos on the roads will result in many routes being closed so crews will have to study maps to find alternate routes to sites.
  • Normal communications will work sporadically or fail completely, so crews will sometimes have no way of reporting in or receiving direction.   If they get creative, they might be able to communicate by other non-standard means such as borrowing someone’s blackberry, mike cell phone, laptop, or ham radio, commandeering a commercial vhf radio (taxi, bus, delivery vehicle), finding a pay phone (which are restored earlier than many other phone services following a disaster), using a runner, etc.