Setting the Stage

Einsteinville has not had a large scale exercise in three years. Since then, the Emergency Plan and Implementing Procedures (EPIPs) have been modified to bring the site into full compliance with the latest DOE directives. The emergency director for the emergency response organization (ERO) has been very busy identifying objectives for the large scale exercise, set for nine months from now.

The ERO has spent the past year readying for the exercise, identifying responders and their roles, and ensuring that everyone will understand their responsibilities and be prepared to do their jobs well. Major issues they have identified for action prior to the exercise:

  • Event Classification Decision making - A change to the Classification EPIP has been drafted to bring Einsteinville in line with the latest guidance on prompt classification and notification of emergency events. In addition to the duty officer and emergency director, the plant shift superintendents will be responsible for assessing emergency events and, in some cases, for categorizing and classifying them. The chair of the drill and exercise committee has decided to address classification and other decision making through a decision making tabletop drill to be conducted before the large scale exercise.
  • Fire and Rescue Elements - Several of the production buildings have crawlways underneath them that must be accessed periodically as these buildings are being placed into an inactive status. The fire and rescue personnel have had limited training in confined-space rescue techniques in a HAZMAT scenario. For this reason, there will be a small scale drill/exercise designed and conducted primarily for these response elements.
  • Overall Site Communications and Notifications - Several findings in drills and exercises identified systemic problems with site communications and notifications processes. These have been thoroughly addressed in tabletops and drills in the past year and will represent a major focus for the large scale exercise.

Step 1.1: Identify the drill or exercise focus.

The focus of this tabletop drill was a site-based HAZMAT event that involved notifying DOE HQ because the classification was site area emergency. (Note: DOE was simulated and role played by actors.)

Step 1.2: Identify and organize the development team(s).

The development team consisted of the members of the site drill/exercise committee. For a tabletop, the development team can be much, much smaller than for even a small drill because all the elements are focused on a few objectives and the entire event takes place in one room with nearly everything simulated.

Step 1.3: Develop the drill or exercise scope.

Scope and extent of play: The tabletop involved only the crisis manager, the emergency director and emergency operations center (EOC) manager, and role-players representing DOE HQ.

Step 1.4: Review the drill or exercise objectives.

There were two objectives for this tabletop drill:

  • Given event information, classify emergency events based on site emergency action levels (EALs) and the draft procedure on classification.
  • Given event information, communicate effectively with DOE HQ regarding event information in accordance with site procedures and applicable directives and guidance.

Step 1.5: Develop the drill or dxercise design and development guidelines.

Very few guidelines are needed for a tabletop: an appropriate room in which to conduct it and an appropriate staff to administer it and to ensure participation from target participants. Looking at protocols, these were the rules of conduct for the tabletop. The moderator was in charge of the tabletop and controlled exercise time and the placement of information messages or action messages, as well as discussion periods. Limitations were the normal ones for a tabletop, such as the fact that everything happens in one room under the unified control of the moderator. Virtually everything was simulated.

If a tabletop is well designed, about all that is required is to set a target date, engage participants, and assign development tasks.

Step 1.6: Develop the drill or exercise master schedule.

Not needed for tabletop drill of this complexity.

Step 2.1: Describe initial conditions.

Description of initial conditions included date, time, normal operational status, midday occurrence, fair weather, 61 degrees temperature, wind from East at 10MPH variable, stability class C. The important thing was to convey a normal workday at the plant, with no particular constraints from operations or weather.

Step 2.2: Identify pre-drill/pre-exercise initiating events.

Pre-drill events were identified as "Workers are removing a large debris pile behind Bldg. X-300, the production building. The debris consists of scrap material left from past operations and is being loaded by a back-hoe into a dump truck for disposal offsite." This set up the event that triggered the simulated tabletop emergency response.

Step 2.3: Identify initiating events.

For this scenario, the work crew accidentally uncovered and punctured a cylinder containing HF gas that was hazardous and prompted the emergency. It is not that uncommon to find old, poorly-characterized waste piles where hazardous materials were carelessly disposed of in the past. Click here to see a scenario narrative.

In this case, no EAL exists since the site thought all the old HF cylinders were long gone, and responders needed to address alternate means to assess the consequences, such as the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) (

Step 2.4: Provide expected responder actions.

Regarding protective actions:

We, the developers, identified likely protective actions to be directed and recommended for this event. The objective here was not to have senior managers go through this identification process. Rather, we wanted them to realize they had capable specialists seeing to this, and the senior managers' job was to understand the work, ensure it was of high quality, and then be able to communicate effectively at management levels about it.

Regarding expected notifications:

Senior management received notification of the event (given to them as a message inject.) Again, in this case, the primary purpose was to have senior management verify that required offsite notifications were made, so we developed these and put them into play as tabletop injects or messages, stating that these were accomplished. In another drill, with different training audience and objectives, we might have had the players decide what the notifications were to be and issued them. Click here to see an information inject.

Regarding facility and resources to be activated:

Again, these were identified for the players (senior management) for the most part. The only exception was the decision to activate the EOC, which required senior management being informed.

Regarding emergency declaration/classification:

Since senior management did not make the decision regarding emergency declaration/classification, but rather was informed of it, the tabletop focused on understanding the methodology of the classification process and the result of it.

Regarding source term and projected consequence assessment activities:

For this tabletop, this was less important because there was no objective to exercise the consequence assessment function. In fact, we did not want senior managers to spend their time trying to duplicate the work of their EOC resources. So, we gave them the results produced by this team to see if they understood them and were able to communicate them.

Step 2.5: Describe termination conditions.

The role of senior management was to review and approve recovery plans coming from the emergency director and EOC staff. We used a draft recovery plan that was lacking basic required information and let them work through the process to identify its shortfalls and send it back for revision.

Step 3.1: Identify the initiating and other key events.

Key events were listed to arrive at a rough idea of all the activities expected from an event of this nature. Since everything was happening around a table, we just had to be sure we thought of basically everything that the participants might ask. This required an extensive brainstorming session by the development team.

Step 3.2: Identify expected responder actions.

For many activities, the responders were not present for the tabletop. We told our participants what happened, and so, again, it was important to have a real good idea what would happen so the scenario would be as realistic as possible.

Step 3.3: Assign times to the sequence of events as they are added to the timeline/MSEL.

This is where the timeline for the scenario is built. For this tabletop, which used almost total simulation, the moderator was the controller of the time clock. This meant he "told" participants what had happened and when, they could adjust (speed up or slow down) the flow of exercise time, including taking "time out" to discuss something in depth. This was the real value of the tabletop drill. Of course, this only works if there is an objective timeline for the events, upon which all the decision making is based. Click here to see a tabletop timeline.

Regarding the MSEL, it is not really needed for a Tabletop. The MSEL allows many disparate exercise activities to be tracked and correlated by controllers. It's not needed for this scale activity, where all activity occurs in one room, under the aegis of a single moderator and a few controllers. But whichever format is used, the appropriate information for the moderator to control and direct the tabletop activity needs to be recorded.

Step 3.4: Identify messages and injects.

For this tabletop, we had to distinguish between message/injects meant to explain what was happening in the simulated events and those we intended to use to prompt a classification.

For example: We used the first type to inform about the status of the hazardous release; we used the second type to direct participants to action by scheduling a videoconference with DOE HQ. So the first type of inject informed, the second type prompted an action that was part of the training objective of this tabletop.

Step 4.1: Develop pre-drill/pre-exercise messages.

For a tabletop, things kick off when everyone is assembled and the moderator sets the scene. There is usually an initial information inject/message, which lets the players know what has supposedly happened to that point. For this drill, we chose to begin with a simulated telephone call from the duty officer to the emergency director informing of the emergency and decision to activate the EOC. Details were added as we went.

Step 4.2: Develop action messages.

Just like a larger scale exercise, we used action messages to induce players to act. We developed a number of action messages to prompt the decision makers to take appropriate actions, which we then discussed around the table. Click here to see an action inject.

Step 4.3: Develop control messages.

For a tabletop, control messages are less formal and really consist of the moderator knowing when play has strayed from the direction desired and having a few "hip pocket" injects to throw into play to set the right direction. In most cases, these will are not written out, but the moderator understands when and how to change things around to get the desired play.

In this tabletop, transitions were simple and controlled by the moderator. The development team concentrated on the direction expected for the tabletop and planned for transitions between events. In most cases, these were easy to accomplish since time is more fluid and dynamic in tabletops.

Step 4.4: Develop general site and facility-specific messages.

For this tabletop drill, we developed these messages in step 4.1 as part of the pre-drill messages. This included a brief synopsis of the facility, plant conditions, and operations.

Step 4.5: Develop hazardous material data.

This is one of those areas where, again, there was less application in a tabletop of this type. If the consequence assessment team had participated, then we would have needed lots of hard data on source term, release rates, weather, etc. But in the case of our senior management tabletop, we just needed to have the final data and conclusions that would be stated as given from each EOC team. Remember, it was NOT our objective to have senior management micro-manage and second-guess their EOC assets.

Step 4.6: Develop meteorological data.

Here, we used real meteorological conditions, so this step did not apply.

Step 4.7: Develop medical data.

We used the MSDS to identify the effects on the employees. We used this information in the scenario narrative.

Step 4.8: Develop other types of data needed for the drill/exercise.

We pulled EALs from our plans and EPIPs for responders to use to classify events.

Step 5.1: Ensure responders are provided the opportunity to meet exercise objectives.

For a tabletop, this is really a function of conduct as much as design. The moderator is responsible for providing the information required for the participants to demonstrate their objectives. This shows once again the very important role of moderator for the tabletop.

Step 5.2: Ensure accuracy of scenario information.

For this tabletop, the development team cross checked each other's work and passed the entire tabletop through at least one review from someone else who was not part of the development team. In this case, we decided to have the EOC manager and incident commander review for technical accuracy and flow of events.

Step 5.3: Review for completeness and usability.

For this tabletop, the development team cross checked each other's work and passed the entire tabletop through at least one review from someone else who was not part of the development team. In this case, we decided to have the EOC manager and incident commander review for technical accuracy and flow of events.

Step 5.4: Develop safety guidance.

Since this was a tabletop drill, we did not have to develop safety guidance.

Step 5.5: Develop security guidance.

Since this was a tabletop drill, we did not have to develop security guidance other than having the final package reviewed by the ADC.