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BOMA: Are You Prepared for Various Hazards? It May Be Time for a Tabletop Exercise



Sept. 30, 2015 — As part of the recent National PrepareAthon! Day, BOMA International assessed its own preparedness by conducting a tabletop exercise based on a real-life scenario that took place in Washington, D.C.

The day, which concluded National Preparedness Month, was a grassroots awareness initiative coordinated by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to encourage individuals, organizations, and communities to prepare for specific hazards through group discussions, drills, and exercises. 

To watch the BOMA exercise, click here.

Interested in holding your own preparedness tabletop exercise?  Use this handy checklist to make sure it’s a success:

Choose a preparedness scenario: Select a hypothetical situation, perhaps based on an event in the news or a challenge recently faced by another property. The topic for discussion should be selected by the planning team and not shared beyond this group to allow for an element of surprise on the day of the exercise.

Identify and invite participants: For commercial buildings, members of the property management and building engineering teams; security, janitorial, and parking facility staff; tenant representatives; and local first responders are all important team members who can work together to ensure that every eventuality is considered.  Individuals participating in the session should understand why they have been asked to attend the session and the value they will bring to the discussion.

Plan exercise logistics: Reserve a room big enough to host all participants, set up seating in a U-shaped or roundtable arrangement to encourage an active dialog, prepare any audiovisual materials (i.e., slide presentations, videos, building floorplan images) and arrange refreshments.

Conduct the exercise: Facilitators should present the scenario and encourage attendees to consider what steps should be taken before (if possible), during and after the event and who would be responsible for various activities throughout the property.

Assess preparedness and take steps to improve: Following the exercise, attendees should be given the opportunity to identify one key takeaway from the session and consider any gaps in preparedness to address moving forward.

More detailed information can be found in FEMA’s "Organizational Tabletop Exercises" online guide, found here, and in BOMA International’s Emergency Preparedness Guidebook: The Property Professional’s Resource for Developing Emergency Plans for Natural and Human-Based Threats. For more information on the guidebook, click here.


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