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Emergency Management Tests (EMT) & Exercises

Each year between January 1st and December 31st, schools are required to test a section of their emergency management plan by completing a tabletop, functional, or full-scale exercise. In a three-year period, schools are required to complete one tabletop, one functional, and one full-scale exercise on a rotation.

Using the information in their emergency operations plan, schools create an exercise scenario (hypothetical) that is most relevant for their unique situation. The Ohio School Safety Center encourages schools to allow local first responders to participate in the planning and execution of the exercises.  However, student participation is not mandatory.

Within 30 days of completion of the exercise, schools must complete an EMT After-Action Report using the School Safety Plans Portal. The Ohio School Safety Center encourages schools to utilize the EMT Data Collection Worksheet prior to submitting it online. This form is a useful data-collection tool that helps schools document critical elements of the exercise prior to entering it into the School Safety Plans Portal.

A webinar on demand is available for How to Submit an Emergency Management Test ‘After Action Report”.  This presentation will walk you through submitting an Emergency Management Test “After Action Report”. It will go over what is required by the Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code. 

Watch: How to Submit an Emergency Management Test Presentation

Q) Are EMTs the same as the State Fire Marshal’s drills?

A) No. Although all exercises and drills are intended to increase preparedness, there are key differences between DPS’ annual EMT and the State Fire Marshall’s drills. The State Fire Marshall covers typical fire, tornado, and lockdown drills. An EMT is a scheduled, annual tabletop, functional, or full-scale exercise. For additional information, please refer to EMT: Exercise Types webpage on the OSSC website.

Q) What is a tabletop exercise (TTX)?

A) As stated in OAC 3301-5-01, “tabletop exercises (TTX) are typically held in an informal setting intended to generate discussion of various issues regarding a hypothetical, simulated emergency. TTXs can be used to enhance general awareness, validate plans and procedures, rehearse concepts, and/or assess the types of systems needed to guide the prevention of, protection from, mitigation of, response to, and recovery from a defined incident. Generally, TTXs are aimed at facilitating conceptual understanding, identifying strengths and areas for improvement, and/or achieving changes in attitudes.”

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency recently released K-12 Tabletop Exercise Toolkits that schools can adapt to their location. Those toolkits can be found at https://ema.ohio.gov/Exercise_TableTop_Toolkit.aspx.

For additional resources, please visit FEMA’s website at https://training.fema.gov/programs/emischool/el361toolkit/conductingexercisesdrills.htm, or SchoolSafety.gov at https://www.schoolsafety.gov/respond-and-recover/training-exercises-and-drills.

Q) What is a functional exercise?

A) As stated in OAC 3301-5-01, “Functional exercises are designed to validate and evaluate capabilities, multiple functions and/or sub-functions, or interdependent groups of functions. FEs are typically focused on exercising plans, policies, procedures, and staff members involved in management, direction, command, and control functions. In FEs, events are projected through an exercise scenario with event updates that drive activity at the management level. An FE is conducted in a realistic, real-time environment; however, movement of personnel and equipment is usually simulated.”

For additional resources, please visit FEMA’s website at https://training.fema.gov/programs/emischool/el361toolkit/conductingexercisesdrills.htm, or SchoolSafety.gov at https://www.schoolsafety.gov/respond-and-recover/training-exercises-and-drills.

Q) What is a full-scale exercise?

A) As stated in OAC 3301-5-01, “Full-scale exercises are typically the most complex and resource- intensive type of exercise. They involve multiple agencies, organizations, and jurisdictions and validate many facets of preparedness. FSEs often include many players operating under cooperative systems such as the "Incident Command System or Unified Command".

For additional resources, please visit FEMA’s website at https://training.fema.gov/programs/emischool/el361toolkit/conductingexercisesdrills.htm, or SchoolSafety.gov at https://www.schoolsafety.gov/respond-and-recover/training-exercises-and-drills

Q) Do EMTs operate on a school year or calendar year?

A) EMTs operate on a calendar year. An exercise completed anytime between January 1st and December 31st will count for that calendar year.

Q) Did the 2020 EMT get extended because of Covid19?

A) Yes. Due to Covid19, the Superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education granted a 2020 EMT deadline extension. If a school could not complete their EMT in 2020, they can complete two EMTs in 2021 – one to count towards 2020 and one to count towards 2021. If completing two EMTs in 2021, please enter both EMTs with their 2021 completion dates in the School Safety Plans Portal.

Q) Can I complete additional exercises?

A) Yes. Although schools are only required by law to report one exercise per year, the Ohio School Safety Center encourages school to frequently exercise their emergency operations plan. 

Q) I’m not sure what type of exercise my school should complete – can I see past exercise entries?

A) Yes. In the School Safety Plans Portal, click on the blue button in the “Emergency Management Test” column. To view data for a specific year, click on the blue “View” button.

Q) How do I enter my EMT After-Action Report?

A) In the School Safety Plans Portal, click on the blue button in the “Emergency Management Test” column and then “Add New Test”. For step-by-step instructions on how to submit an EMT after-action report, please refer to the EMT After-Action Report Step-by-Step Instructions guide.  Help documents are also available by clicking on the “Help” button in the upper right-hand corner of the School Safety Plans Portal and selecting the “How to Complete and EMT After-Action Report” option. 

Some additional helpful tips:

  • When creating your exercise entry, be sure to indicate “No” when asked if the exercise was an actual emergency.

  • When using a Chemical Accident in your exercise scenario, be sure to upload an MSD Sheet for the chemicals involved using the button indicated below.