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Exercising moving with the times

We will will now explore how, with the use of modern technologies and techniques, some of the limitations and constraints associated with exercising can be lessened or overcome.

Fundamental limitations of emergency response exercises include:

  • Limited planning and training time available

  • Limited funds

  • Limits on the scale of exercises

  • Large number of personnel

  • The difficulties of simulating a real event

  • A lack of evaluation methodologies

  • The difficulties of retaining the skills and knowledge obtained

  • A lack of progressive training

(Kleiboer 1997, Dobson et al. 2001).

These mitigate against frequent exercises.

Another challenge revolves around the need to establish clear objectives for an exercise, in particular strategic or national exercises (Lee et al. 2009). The complexities of involving as many organisations as possible can blur initial objectives preventing clear evaluation of the outcomes.

Technologically-led approaches

Emergency service practitioners and researchers have started to use e-learning and serious games as new methodological frameworks to avoid the limitations of traditional emergency response exercises, and further to improve learning outcomes as they have the following advantages:

  • The scenarios can be re-used many times which reduces the cost and the personnel required

  • Computer-based platforms provide strategic managers with a device to reflect and review their decisions, as they can be recorded and replayed

  • This environment also allows participants to learn the regulations and the code of conduct

(Michael and Chen 2005)

Further to this, it is now generally recognised that a hybrid computer-based and control post exercise can be one of the most cost-effective types of exercises (Chen 2013).

Your task

Have you experience playing computer games?

Were they engaging and was the fidelity (realism) important to this?

Can you see any advantages to the experience from a learning perspective?

Further reading

Examples of serious games and simulation tools that can be used for training in this sector include:


XVR is a simulation platform that is used to generate high-fidelity realist scenarios. You can change environments rapidly and so it is possible to create responsive injects as an exercise progresses.

3rd World Farmer

This is a simple online application that raises awareness of the challenges and difficulties of people living in a more deprived areas. Its use for the sector is in promoting better empathy and understanding of the populations that are being worked with.

World of Emergency

This is a commercial role playing game which generates realistic scenarios for exercising operational and tactical fire responders.


Kleiboer, M. (1997). Simulation Methodology for Crisis Management Support. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 5(4), 198-206.

Dobson, M. W., Pengelly, M., Sime, J. A., Albaladejo, S. A., Garcia, E. V., Gonzales, F., & Maseda, J. M. (2001). Situated learning with co-operative agent simulations in team training. Computers in Human Behavior, 17, 543-573.

Lee, Y. I., Trim, P., Upton, J., & Upton, D. (2009). Large Emergency-Response Exercise: Qualitative Characteristics - A Survey. Simulation and Gaming 40th Anniversary Symposium Articles. Simulation & Gaming, 40 (6), 726-751.

Michael, D. R., Chen, S. L. (2005) Serious Games: Games that Educate, Train, and Inform. Boston, USA: Course Technology

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This article is from the free online course:

Emergency and Disaster Training and Exercising: An Introduction

Coventry University