The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) serves as a key partner in the design and conduct of public safety exercises in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. MDERS’s Training and Exercise Program works closely with fire/rescue/emergency medical services, law enforcement, emergency management, public health, and healthcare systems to ensure a robust exercise capability within the region and within individual agencies. As part of this support, MDERS offers instruction on the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) to local agencies so they may better implement their individual exercise programs.
Originally published in 2002 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), HSEEP establishes guidelines for the development and implementation of effective exercise programs. HSEEP outlines key guidelines in five components of the exercise cycle: program management, design and development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning. These guidelines ensure a consistent methodology across jurisdictions and agencies, while remaining adaptable to individual organizations’ needs. In 2020, FEMA released an update to HSEEP, reflecting feedback solicited from the exercise community. Key changes to the 2020 HSEEP updates include: increased inclusivity of the whole community, additional tools and training resources for exercise design, application of “SMART” methodology to improvement planning, and the implementation of an Integrated Preparedness Plan (IPP) to replace the Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plan (MyTEP).*
In response to the 2020 revisions, the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) delivered an updated HSEEP course offering to the National Capital Region (NCR), which encompassed the new changes. MDERS Training and Exercise staff assisted HSEMA with the instruction of the updated HSEEP course, and as a result, began developing new curriculum for MDERS stakeholder agencies.
Since assisting HSEMA with the instruction of their updated curriculum, the MDERS Training and Exercise Program worked to customize its HSEEP course to better meet the needs of the MDERS stakeholder community. When partnering with a specific agency, MDERS tailors the course materials and group activities to enhance participant engagement according to the makeup of the class. Each offering of the HSEEP course includes a capstone functional exercise project to ensure that students can apply critical thinking and conflict resolution skills to solve real-world situations. During the capstone, MDERS instructors provide students with a scenario and exercise templates. Students then collaborate to design, develop, and conduct the exercise within the allotted time. The capstone project reinforces principles and best practices, while allowing students to make inferences and form recommendations based on the knowledge learned throughout the course.
MDERS will deliver the first offering of the updated HSEEP course to the Prince George’s County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (PH OHSEM) in the fall of 2022.
For more information on requesting an HSEEP course for your agency or organization, please reach out to the MDERS Training and Exercise Team by emailing MDERS.Training@Maryland.Gov.
*For a full list of changes implemented by FEMA in the HSEEP 202 Revision, please visit: https://www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/national-preparedness/exercises/hseep.