Application of project management tools to assist in the process of developing emergency exercises

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Virginia Tech

An emergency exercise is an important part of emergency management and helps prepare and test the emergency management system to face an emergency. Emergencies tested include those caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and technological accidents--nuclear and chemical. This research focuses on emergency exercises for accidents at nuclear facilities. The aim of this research is to identify which project management tools emergency exercise development managers can use to assist them in developing emergency exercises. The project management tools selected were the stakeholder analysis, work breakdown structure, responsibility matrix, activity/ milestone list, progress diagram, Gantt chart, and activity network. A group of experts in emergency exercise development acted as a source of information on how project management tools could be used in emergency exercise development. This group of experts were given a hands-on workshop on using the seven project management tools. The experts developed an emergency exercise shortly after the workshop. These experts were asked for their opinions on how they could have used the tools to assist them in developing the exercise. The experts' opinions were gathered using open-ended and structured interviews. The interview data on analysis, revealed that of the seven project management tools, experts felt most comfortable with the stakeholder analysis, work breakdown structure, responsibility matrix, and activity/milestone chart. Analysis also revealed that further training was required before the group of experts felt comfortable with the project management tools. Hypotheses on the relationship between the group developing exercises and usage of project management tools are made. Exercise developers' suggestions on usage of project management tools are also provided.