Office of Emergency Management Exercise



Training and exercises are vital components to providing emergency response agencies, non-governmental agencies, and community partners with the opportunity to improve both public safety and preparedness capabilities.

The primary focus of State OEM's Exercise Program is to assist local, county, State, and federal government agencies, along with private sector and not-for-profit entities, in the development, planning, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning components and activities associated with the priorities identified in the State's Annual Integrated Preparedness Plan. 

The State OEM Exercise Staff is available to help assist with, and support development of, local preparedness and response exercise programs.

  • Assist in planning, developing, conducting, and evaluating objective-based, scenario-driven exercises.
  • Provide technical assistance with Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP) guidance.
  • Provide (loan) a trailer equipped with a variety of simulation equipment to enhance realism in preparedness exercises such as: Smoke machines, scent generators, portable shelters, safety vests, signs, etc.

Exercise Types

The Exercise Program follows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) methodology outlined in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), a capabilities-based exercise methodology designed to build a self-sustaining exercise program and provide standards for designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating exercises of all types and scope.

The HSEEP methodology provides different exercise types for both discussion and operations-based objectives, which can aid a jurisdiction in examining plans, capabilities, and identifying gaps. There are seven different types of exercises; the three most common types are:

  • Seminar: Seminars bring together those with a role or interest in the plan — owner and State, tribal, and local emergency management agencies — to discuss the plan and initial concepts for an annual drill or more in-depth comprehensive exercise.
  • Workshop: During workshops, participant interaction is increased and the focus is on achieving or building a product (such as a draft plan or policy). Workshops are often used in conjunction with exercise development to determine objectives, develop scenarios, and define evaluation criteria.
  • Tabletop Exercise: This discussion-based exercise is intended to stimulate discussion of various issues regarding a hypothetical situation. It can be used to assess plans, policies, and procedures, or to assess types of systems needed to guide in the prevention of, response to, and recovery from a defined incident. TTXs can be group break-out (i.e., groups split into functional areas), plenary (i.e. one large group), or a combination of both.
  • Game: Games are a simulation of operations that often involve two or more teams and use rules, data, and procedures to depict an actual or assumed real-life situation. The goal of a game is to explore decision making processes and the consequences of those decisions. A game differs from a tabletop in that the sequence of events affects, and is in turn affected by, decisions made by players.
  • Drill: A drill is a low-level exercise that tests, develops, or maintains skills in a single emergency response procedure.
  • Functional Exercise: This operations-based exercise is designed to test and evaluate individual capabilities, multiple functions or activities within a function, or interdependent groups or functions. The FE utilizes a system of exercise simulators and exercise injects to accomplish objectives with no movement or actual "boots on the ground" operations taking place.
  • Full-Scale Exercise: The most complex of all exercise types, the operations-based exercise is typically a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional exercise designed to test the appropriate target capabilities identified early during the exercise planning process. Ideally, the FSE focuses on implementing and analyzing plans, policies, and procedures developed in discussion-based exercises, and homed in previous, smaller, operations-based exercises.
Exercise Building Blocks

HSEEP (Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program)

Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP)

HSEEP provides a set of guiding principles for exercise and evaluation programs, as well as a common approach to exercise program management, design and development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning.

Through the use of HSEEP, the whole community can develop, execute, and evaluate exercises that address the preparedness priorities. These priorities are informed by risk and capability assessments, findings, corrective actions from previous events, and external requirements. These priorities guide the overall direction of an exercise program and the design and development of individual exercises.

More information can be found on the HSEEP web site.

HSEEP Methodology

HSEEP Methodology

HSEEP uses a common methodology for planning and conducting individual exercises. This methodology applies to exercises in support of all national preparedness mission areas. A common methodology ensures a consistent and interoperable approach to exercise design and development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning.

Exercise Design and Development

In designing and developing individual exercises, exercise planning team members are identified to schedule planning meetings, identify and develop exercise objectives, design the scenario, create documentation, plan exercise conduct and evaluation, and coordinate logistics. At key points in this process, the exercise planning team engages elected and appointed officials to ensure their intent is captured and that the officials are prepared to support the exercise as necessary.

Exercise Conduct

After design and development activities are complete, the exercise is ready to occur. Activities essential to conducting individual exercises include preparing for exercise play, managing exercise play, and conducting immediate exercise wrap-up activities.

Exercise Evaluation

Evaluation is the cornerstone of an exercise and must be considered throughout all phases of the exercise planning cycle, beginning when the exercise planning team meets to establish objectives and initiate exercise design. Effective evaluation assesses performance against exercise objectives, and identifies and documents strengths and areas for improvement relative to core capabilities.

Improvement Planning

During improvement planning, the corrective actions identified during individual exercises are tracked to completion, ensuring that exercises yield tangible preparedness improvements. An effective corrective action program develops IPs that are dynamic documents, which are continually monitored and implemented as part of the larger system of improving preparedness.

HSEEP Toolkit

HSEEP Toolkit

HSEEP provides a set of guiding principles for exercise and evaluation programs, as well as a common approach to exercise program management, design and development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning.


HSEEP Exercise Cycle

  HSEEP Doctrine


IS-120.C: An Introduction to Exercises

Course Overview

IS 120.C is an INDEPENDENT STUDY course designed to introduce students to the basics of emergency management exercises. It also builds a foundation for subsequent exercise courses, which provide the specifics of the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) and the National Standard Exercise Curriculum (NSEC). In this course, students will be introduced to concepts including managing an exercise program, designing and developing an exercise, conducting and evaluating an exercise, as well as developing and implementing an improvement plan.


IS/G-130.A: How to be an Exercise Evaluator

Course Overview

This Independent Study course introduces the basics of emergency management exercise evaluation and improvement planning. It also provides the foundation for exercise evaluation concepts and practices as identified in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program.


G-139: Exercise Design and Development

Course Overview

Through the use of this course, exercise program managers can learn to develop, execute, and evaluate exercises that address the priorities established by an organization’s leaders. These priorities are based on the National Preparedness Goal, strategy documents, threat and hazard identification/risk assessment processes, capability assessments, and the results from previous exercises and real-world events. These priorities guide the overall direction of a progressive exercise program, where individual exercises are anchored to a common set of priorities or objectives and build toward an increasing level of complexity over time.


G-146: Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP)

Course Overview

This is an intermediate-level course designed to describe the core principles and processes of HSEEP, its standardized methodology, available resources, and practical skill development, which will assist in developing an HSEEP consistent exercise program. The objectives of the course are to understand the role of HSEEP in National Preparedness, and how HSEEP exercise principles and methodology support efforts across the whole community to improve our national capacity to build, sustain, and deliver core capabilities.

Helpful Links

Contact NYS OEM Exercise Branch

Contact us by phone:

OEM Exercise518-292-2351