Emergency Management (EM) (Critical Access Hospitals / Critical Access Hospitals)
Q: Is a tabletop exercise acceptable as an implementation of the Emergency Management / Emergency Operations Plan?
Revised | November 24, 2008
A: As of January 1, 2002, emergency exercises must include a "community wide" practice component in at least one of the required exercises. Because of the potential cost and complexity of conducting a community wide emergency simulation, the Joint Commission has allowed the community wide component of the drill to be conducted as a tabletop exercise. This tabletop exercise may be conducted in a single location and involve a limited number of key personnel. This type of exercise may allow personnel to invoke the community command structure, determine communication requirements, coordinate longer-range logistics and rehearse other plan attributes in a compressed timeframe. As such, tabletop exercises can be a very effective tool in clarifying roles and responsibilities of both the organization and the local responders.
However, in addition to the community wide component for organizations that offer emergency services or are designated as disaster receiving stations, at least one exercise must also include an "influx of simulated patients". Tabletop exercises are not acceptable by the Joint Commission to satisfy the "influx of patients" component of an exercise. For an "influx" exercise to be acceptable, it must be an active process that is conducted throughout the facility, involve personnel from the organization, and simulate the movement of patients. A tabletop exercise does not meet this requirement.