Simulation Exercise

Last updated on 11 Sep 2023
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SimEx Activities
Region Country Activity dates Status Report Minimum Report
African Region Côte d'Ivoire 03 Feb 2016 to 05 Feb 2016 Conducted
African Region Togo 10 Feb 2016 Conducted
Western Pacific Region Lao People's Democratic Republic 22 Mar 2016 to 24 Mar 2016 Conducted
African Region Burkina Faso 06 May 2016 Conducted
African Region Guinea-bissau 01 May 2016 Conducted
African Region Democratic Republic Of The Congo 05 May 2016 Conducted
African Region Chad 12 May 2016 Conducted
African Region Central African Republic 12 May 2016 Conducted
Western Pacific Region Mongolia 30 Jun 2016 Conducted
South-East Asia Region Indonesia 27 Jun 2016 to 29 Jun 2016 Conducted

A simulation exercise (SimEx) can help develop, assess and test functional capabilities of emergency systems, procedures and mechanisms to be able to respond to outbreaks or public health emergencies.

The video will explains in 4 minutes the SimEx practice as promoted by WHO, including the definition, the different types of SimEx (table top exercise, drill, functional exercise and field/full scale exercise) and available resources.

Simulation exercise types

Generally, there are four fundamental types of exercises that can be split in two categories:

Discussion-based exercises:

Table Top exercises (TTX): A Table Top exercise is a facilitated discussion of an emergency situation, generally in an informal, low-stress environment. It is designed to elicit constructive participant discussion, to identify and resolve problems and refine existing operational plans. This is the only type of simulation exercise that does not require an existing response plan in place.

Operations-based exercises:

Drill (DR): A drill is a coordinated, supervised exercise activity, normally used to test or train a single specific operation or function in a repeated fashion. A drill aims to practice and perfect one small part of the response plan and should be as realistic as possible, employing any equipment or apparatus for the specific function.

Functional exercises (FX):

A functional exercise is a fully simulated interactive exercise that tests the capability of an organization to respond to a simulated event. The exercise tests multiple functions of the organization’s operational plan. It is a coordinated response to a situation in a time pressured, realistic situation. A functional exercise focuses on the coordination, integration, and interaction of an organization’s policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities before, during, or after the simulated event.

Full-scale/field exercises (FSX):

A full-scale exercise simulates a real event as closely as possible and is designed to evaluate the operational capability of emergency management systems in a highly stressful environment, simulating actual response conditions. This includes the mobilization and movement of emergency personnel, equipment and resources. Ideally, the full-scale exercise should test and evaluate most functions of the emergency management plan or operational plan. Differing from the FX, a full-scale exercise typically involves multiple agencies and participants physically deployed in an exercise field location.

Field exercises: See full-scale exercise.

A field exercise is one form of full-scale exercise, focusing on more specific capacities or series of capacities, such as procedures for Rapid Response Teams (RRT), laboratory analysis or other sample collection and transport.

Exercises are not one-time events, but should be undertaken as part of a carefully designed exercise program which ensures a common strategic objective is addressed. A comprehensive exercise program is made up of progressively complex exercises, which build upon the previous, until they are as close to reality as possible. This ‘building-block approach’ should start with basic exercises that test specific aspects of preparedness and response, followed by progressively complex exercises requiring additional preparation time and resources.


The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the terminology, concepts and principles of simulation exercise management in line with the WHO Simulation Exercise Management Manual.

On completion of this online course, you should be able to:

  1. Explain the benefits of simulation exercises as used in the public health domain.
  2. Demonstrate a general knowledge of the terminology, concepts and principles described in the WHO Exercise Manual (2017).
  3. Describe the different phases of the exercise project cycle (planning, conduct and post-exercise).
  4. Select the type of exercise appropriate for a specific purpose and objectives.

Expected audience: IHR NFPs, WHO staff, Health professionals and partners, any person interested in public health simulation exercises.

Please note that an audio is available for this course.

Simulation Exercise - Country…
Emergency Alert Broadcast
Emergency Declaration
Generic Communicable Video
Travel Restrictions
National Response Issues
Operations Video 1
Health Service Strain
Economics of PHE
Operations Video 2
International Response
Cat Flu Zoonotic Outbreak Video Three
Cat Flu Zoonotic Outbreak Video Two
Cat Flu Zoonotic Outbreak Video One
Cholera Variant 3
Cholera 2
Cholera 1
Mass Gathering - Plague 2
Mass Gathering - Plague 1
Listeriosis M. Outbreak RU Subtitles
Listeriosis M. Outbreak EN Subtitles
Earthquake 3
Earthquake 2
Earthquake 1
SimEx - Natural Disaster, Flood,…
SimEx - Natural Disaster, Flood,…
SimEx - Natural Disaster, Flood,…
SimEx - Deliberate pathogen release V1
SimEx - Deliberate pathogen release V2
SimEx - Deliberate pathogen release V3
Civil Conflict 3
Civil Conflict 2
Civil Conflict 1
Industrial Accident Rail Car 2
Industrial Accident - Rail Car
SimEx - Industrial Accident, 2nd Inject
SimEx - Industrial Accident, 1st Inject
Nuclear Accident 3
Nuclear Accident 2
Nuclear Accident
SimEx - Environmental Disaster…
SimEx Implementation 
SimEX Covid-19 
SimEx implementation by PHE categories 
SimEx by IHR (2005) Core Capacities