Healthy People in a Healthy Environment

Phase 5: Training, Testing, and Exercises

Each part of the agency must know how to execute its portion of the COOP plan and how it relates to the other parts of the COOP plan. This is important for employee awareness and readiness.


  • Assess and validate COOP plans, policies, and procedures
  • Ensure employees are familiar with procedures
  • Ensure COOP personnel are trained to execute essential functions in a COOP situation
  • Test and validate equipment to ensure both internal and external interoperability


  • An evaluation of a capability against an established and measurable standard
  • Conducted to evaluate capabilities¬†– not personnel
  • Should be documented
  • Results should be published
  • Gaps should be tracked and managed


  • Instruction in core competencies and skills
  • The principal means by which individuals achieve a level of proficiency
  • Encompasses a range of activities, each intended to provide information and refine skills
  • Should be documented
  • A training schedule should be published and updated

Two Training Methods

1. Orientations

  • First type conducted
  • Typically presented as briefings
  • Introduces the general concepts of the COOP plan
  • Announces staff assignments, roles, and responsibilities
  • Present general procedures
  • Describe how and within what timeframes the COOP plan will be tested and exercised

2. Hands-On Training

  • Provides practice in specialized skills
  • Allows for practicing newly acquired skills
  • Helps maintain proficiency at infrequently used skills


Allows participants to apply their skills and knowledge to improve operational readiness. The purpose of an exercise is to identify areas that require additional training, planning, or other resources. The goal of exercising the COOP plan is to prepare for a real incident that would require COOP activation.

Broad goals include:

  • Discover planning weaknesses
  • Reveal resource gaps
  • Improve coordination
  • Practice using the communication network
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Improve individual performance
  • Improve readiness for a real incident


  • Tabletop – Simulation activity in which a scenario is presented and participants respond as if the scenario were really happening
  • Functional – Simulate a function within a real incident
  • Full-Scale – Tests the total response capability for COOP situations

Federal Preparedness Circular 65 (FPC 65) recommends the following for federal agencies which may be relevant to your organization:

  • COOP awareness briefings for the entire workforce
  • Team Training for COOP personnel
  • Team training for personnel assigned to activate, support, and sustain COOP operations

Go to Phase 6: Implementation