Welcome to Exercise Winter Blues!

Exercise Winter Blues! is a three hour functional tabletop exercise that provides players with an opportunity to test their current plans and processes to deal with an exercise built around various severe weather conditions. This exercise is designed to test the planning functions of a community-based Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and is aimed at senior decision makers at the tactical and strategic level.

Additionally Winter Blues! is especially designed to test the ability of EOC personnel to manage their own stress reactions, reduce the stressors on front-line staff and to provide timely psychosocial support to community residents impacted by the disaster scenario. Prior to running the exercise, players will need to watch a short training video to help them manage some of the situations they will encounter during the exercise. This video will focus on five important themes relating to psychosocial factors.

What do you mean by “psychosocial”?

Psychosocial refers to the interaction between one’s mind and body; in practical terms, the term refers to one’s physical, psychological and social functioning.

Please Note Before You Start:

  1. You need to make sure that you have trained EOC personnel to manage a disaster response. This exercise is designed to test trained and experienced EOC personnel to respond to numerous winter weather-related events; many of which will prove to be quite challenging. This exercise is not designed to create awareness or introduce EOC functions to players. There will be casualties and some of the audio-visual and audio inputs into the exercise may be disturbing and distressful to exercise players.
  2. You will need to have a Lead Controller to run/manage the exercise. The Lead Controller will need to take the time to review and download all of the relevant materials and to follow the directions in the Controller Guidebook. The Lead Controller will not be able to actively participate in the exercise.
  3. You will need to have a private, separate room to use for the exercise. Ideally you would be able to use your actual EOC. The room should be able to comfortably accommodate all of your exercise players. While there is no maximum number of players, the exercise is best run with anywhere from six to ten players. If you have fewer than four players, they will quickly become overwhelmed with the tasks they will need to carry out.
  4. The players for the exercise should be members of your local EOC. This exercise is community-based; it is not suitable for regional, provincial/state or higher levels of government. The exercise will use the fictional community of “Denton” and all supporting maps, materials, etc. will be available to be downloaded. Nevertheless, your plans and processes (i.e., whether or not you use an Incident Command based approach or some other emergency management system) will be adaptable to this exercise.
  5. Two computers are required to simultaneously run audio and video files. You will need to ensure that you can accommodate the technical requirements to run the exercise. View the computer technical requirements to run the exercise.
  6. While this exercise was designed for an international audience, nevertheless it was developed in Canada; the language used for the exercise is in English; and it does involve severe winter conditions. It may not be suitable for communities who have not experienced a severe winter climate.
  7. It is important to remember that even though this is an exercise, for many players who are immersed in the exercise it may seem very real; there is always the possibility that players may experience some psychosocial reactions during or after the exercise. Thus, it will be important to have someone available after the exercise to provide not only an operational debriefing for exercise players but also to provide an opportunity for players to express any psychosocial responses and receive any necessary support for those responses.

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