A Full-Scale Exercise (FSE) is the most complex type of exercise. FSEs are multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional, multi-organizational exercises that validate many facets of preparedness. They focus on implementing and analyzing the plans, policies, procedures, and cooperative agreements developed in discussion-based exercises and honed in previous, smaller, operations-based exercises. In FSEs, the reality of operations in multiple functional areas presents complex and realistic problems that require critical thinking, rapid problem solving, and effective responses by trained personnel.

During FSEs, events are projected through a scripted exercise scenario with built-in flexibility to allow updates to drive activity. FSEs are conducted in real time, creating a stressful, time-constrained environment that closely mirrors real events. The level of support needed to conduct an FSE is greater than that needed during other types of exercises.

Response-focused FSEs include many first responders operating under the principles of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to effectively and efficiently respond to an incident. Personnel and resources are mobilized and deployed to the scene where they conduct their activities as if a real incident had occurred (with minor exceptions). An FSE also may include functional play from participants not located at the exercise incident response site, such as multi-agency coordination centers (MACCs), EOCs, or hospitals.

Typical FSE attributes include the following:

  • Units, personnel, and equipment are mobilized.
  • Multi-agency coordination centers (e.g., EOCs) are activated.
  • Established policies and procedures (as they pertain to the scenario) are used.
  • Adequacy, appropriation, and acquisition of resources are measured.
  • Inter-jurisdictional or inter-organizational relationships are examined.
  • Performance is analyzed.

Below you will find links to the various phases and their associated steps to assist you with the design, development, and conduct of a workshop.

Phase 1: Pre-Planning

Phase 2: Design and Development

Phase 3: Conduct Exercise

Phase 4: After Action Report and Improvement Planning