Are Realistic Exercises a Form of Good Governance?

We regularly provide support and/ or participate in Military, Mining, Airport, Police and Emergency services exercises. Yes we all think that exercises are useful, but last week it was pointed out to me, that they are also a form of good governance?

Ok, my first thought was that is drawing a long bow, but it turns out there may be quite some truth in it. The argument being that part of any board’s responsibility is to ensure the mitigation of risk, including the effectiveness response in the event of an incident.

Let’s assume an industrial accident event occurs, but despite the policies, procedures and even first aid training of staff the response is chaotic, primarily due to disbelief and emotion. Could the Directors of the Company be held liable for the response? I will leave you to answer that question.

Effectiveness of response is why the military and emergency services conduct training exercises. They are practicing through learning. The more frequently they conduct these exercises (drills) the more effective the response.

Now enter moulage, our job is to create realism such that it conjures a suspension of disbelief necessary for the tensions manufactured within the design of the exercise to take hold (Davis: 2007). Enabling the students/players to mentally and emotionally immerse themselves in the exercise is our role. I.e. to suspend reality, such that they emotionally and mentally commit to the exercises simulated reality. In sporting terms it could be called simulating match practise.

Professor Tracy C Davis in her book Stages of Emergency: Cold War Nuclear Civil Defense (2007) identified that exercises were a technique of governance designed to practise a set of ideas (sic processes, procedures, skills). Effectively through rehearsals cognitive conditioning (ie responses modified by learning) can be achieved.

What are your thoughts?

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