Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Developing an AWN Program Plan

  1. AWN System Informationnot completed
  2. AWN System SOPsnot completed
  3. Messaging Templatesnot completed
  4. Training and System Test Informationnot completed
  5. Exercises
  6. Review and Downloadnot completed

Step 5: Exercises 

Step 5 of 6

Including alert training in an organization’s test, training and exercise (TT&E) programs can provide an additional level of context that otherwise could be limited in traditional training settings. Where possible, Alerting Administrators are encouraged to leverage TT&E programs as a means to offer additional training for Alert Originators as well as broader audiences that might be directly or indirectly involved in the alerting process. These TT&E programs could include the integration of IPAWS capabilities into existing interagency, multi-agency, or community exercises. Alerting Administrators are encouraged to include the following as part of exercises:

  • Exercises that are Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) compliant (use the National Exercise Program to request FEMA exercise support);
  • Scenarios involving alerting topics and/or practices such as sending a test alert;
  • Discussions on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements and waivers that could be required should the agency want to send a test alert to the public;
  • Use of the IPAWS Lab for a safe, pre-testing environment;
  • Discussions on test ranges such as the strategic deployment of phones in one-tenth of a mile increments, per FCC rules, to understand alert propagation;
  • Discussions on public relations campaign for pre- and post-test information to include media day and a press kit for reporters;
  • Exercise injects that focus on different parts of the alerting process such as chain of command decisions;
  • After-action sessions that include alerting topics;
  • Development of after-action reports and improvement plans that include alerting topics; and
  • Shared alerting outcomes from after-action reports with appropriate alerting partners.

5.1 Including IPAWS in Exercises

A. By exercising IPAWS, you can do the following:

  • Validate IPAWS use and effectiveness
  • Review and assess alert and warning policies and procedures
  • Evaluate personnel capabilities
  • Identify gaps for improvement

B. How can you incorporate IPAWS into exercises?

  • Familiarize yourself and personnel with IPAWS
  • Assess content of current plans and procedures regarding alerts and warnings
  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Expand knowledge of IPAWS
  • Expose areas where IPAWS can be incorporated
  • Improve proficiency
  • Make mistakes and learn from them.

C. Here are examples your organization can use for exercises:

  1. Successfully deliver a shelter-in-place message for a specific area for police activity - avoid this area, etc. - within X minutes of notification of the need for this order.
  2. Successfully deliver a message identifying the location of the Family Reunification Center, Red Cross Shelter, etc., to a specific area within X minutes of notification of the need for this order.

D. For more information on incorporating IPAWS:

Click Here for Additional Exercise Resources

5.2 Testing

It is important to test your templates. Testing methods may be devised locally with assistance from software vendors during training, or with instructions from the IPAWS Lab. FEMA maintains the IPAWS functional laboratory and provides interoperability and functional testing support, Information Assurance support, and overall technical support.

B. Does your organization currently have any Collaborative Operating Group for Collaborative Operating Group (COG) testing?
COG testing is another way to ensure that COGs are communicating with their neighboring or partner jurisdictions. This testing can familiarize staff with this feature and save time when neighboring jurisdictions must be notified of an emerging hazard or event which may be headed their way.

C. Does your agency have agreements in place with local media?