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Why Exercise?

Imagine yourself and your colleagues going about your daily duties, when an emergency occurs.  How prepared would your organization be?  What would you do if you were faced with the real life situation described below?

Calgary was placed under a local state of emergency Saturday night after a rainstorm unlike any residents have seen hammered the city, prompting unprecedented evacuation plans for riverside communities. More than 2,000 people, from millionaires to rooming house residents were given three hours notice Saturday evening to abandon their homes and make for the safety of evacuation centres. The decision was made after a deluge of rain in the region caused the Glenmore dam to overflow, and for water in the Elbow and Bow rivers to spill over their swollen banks. Even moose at the zoo were evacuated.

Two hundred single-family homes, 27 low-rise apartments, three high-rise complexes and 218 townhomes were affected by the notice, which came after the Glenmore dam crested around 5:30 p.m. Even with thousands of sandbags placed strategically along the Elbow River, there was concern it wouldn't be enough to hold back the waters that were expected to continue rising. A registration centre was set up at the SAIT, which had space for 500 people. Hotels were also filling up as stranded people looked for places to stay the night.

Water caused problems across the city, from flooding homes and causing traffic snarls to blocking off roads. In other parts of Calgary, hundreds of basements were deluged by seepage or sewer backup caused by rain water rushing into the city's overtaxed wastewater system. Fire department and city crews were busy pumping out basements all day, with more than 600 water complaints by Saturday evening and the numbers expected to climb. In some cases, basements were filled with two metres of water.

Police also recorded dozens of collisions causing injuries, prompting them to warn drivers about poor road conditions. The pounding rain turned some streets into rivers, stranding motorists. The city warned residents to stay away from rivers -- even nearby pathways because of the rushing torrents.

Flooding of the Elbow River and Fish Creek also caused trouble on the Tsuu T'ina reserve, which prompted the chief and council to call a state of emergency. Two houses were hit with overland flooding, while the community's water wells had some contamination. The Tsuu T'ina council told residents to only use bottled water. Homes in nearby Redwood Meadows were also affected by flooding.

…….excerpt from “Calgary, southern Alberta towns declare State of Emergency”

Calgary Herald, June 19 2005

So, what is the goal of this course?  To provide you with an awareness of emergency management exercise programs.  

Several course objectives will help meet this goal.  At the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the context, core principles, concepts and processes related to the development and management of an exercise program in Canada
  • Describe how to develop and manage a multi-year exercise program
  • Describe how to establish the foundation of an exercise
  • Outline the steps necessary to design and develop a series of exercises
  • Describe how to conduct an exercise
  • Outline how to evaluate an exercise
  • Describe how to implement a Corrective Action Plan based on lessons-learned

As this is a self-study guide, we’ve organized it so that your learning experience is as uncomplicated and productive as possible.

In each part of this guide, you’ll be introduced to some new terminology.  The world of emergency management exercises has its own lingo, and we will try to make it as painless as possible for you to learn this new “language”. The new language you’ll be learning includes acronyms.  Whether you like acronyms or not, be aware that they are used extensively in exercises.  This guide gives you the term and acronym each time it occurs, but note that in a real exercise, you are likely to see only the acronym.  There is a list of common acronyms towards the end of the guide, and it’s a good idea to use it for your reference.

Layout of guide:

¨      Learning objectives- are in purple boxes

¨      Text – basic concepts are described.

¨      Definitions – you’ll find all definitions in blue textured boxes.  Very easy to find!  A complete vocabulary list follows the last lesson.

¨      Highlights – are in yellow boxes

¨      Tips – to let you take advantage of the experience of your peers.  We’ve put these in blue boxes so you can easily find them.

¨      Examples – that illustrate the concepts are put in green boxes so you can easily find them.  Some of these examples are also in your toolkit.

¨      Exercise Tales – are drawn from real life comments made by Canadian participants in exercises, and are included here as they were originally written.  In order to protect the identity of those making comments, we have not identified anyone by name or exercise.  The comments are used to help illustrate the concepts described, and to help you start thinking about the concepts in an action oriented way.  You’ll find these tales in grey boxes.

¨      Did You Know and Reminders – are in orange boxes.

¨      Checklists and samples – give you ready to use tools.  These are located at the end of this workbook.  See the section entitled “Toolkit”.

¨      References – a listing of further resources that can help you to learn more about exercise programming and about previous exercises is provided at the end of the workbook.

Memory aids: 

¨      Test yourself – at the end of each Lesson is a short exercise that will help you to reinforce the concepts that were covered.

¨      Vocabulary – in each part of this workbook, we’ve listed the terms that will be described.  Towards the end of the workbook you will find a detailed vocabulary list that lists all these terms, plus some others that you may encounter as you enter the world of exercises.

¨      Acronym list – is located at the end of this workbook, and lists some of the acronyms that are commonly used in exercises.


¨      The exam format is multiple choice/true or false - a 70% grade is needed to pass and go on to the next level.  The Canadian Emergency Management College, located in Ottawa, administers your exam.  Upon successful completion of this course and a Basic Emergency Management course, you will receive a certificate.

¨      What is the process for writing the exam?

Next step:

¨      a second level course, giving you practical skills to work in an exercise program in your community/organization

Let’s get started!

  • Date modified: 2017-03-22