The use of exercises to enhance and assess interlocal collaboration in preparedness: A qualitative analysis

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Introduction: Interlocal collaboration, or collaboration among neighboring independent municipalities, has been generally accepted as an emergency preparedness strategy. In the absence of large-scale disasters, emergency preparedness exercises may serve to test the effectiveness of interlocal collaboration on emergency preparedness. However, the use of emergency preparedness exercises to enhance or assess interlocal collaboration, or its impact on preparedness, requires additional empirical exploration. Hypothesis/problem: This exploratory study aims to understand the perspectives of key informants (KIs) with broad knowledge of the history, goals, and implementation of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) program, as well as knowledge of interlocal collaboration exercises conducted as part of the UASI program, about the role of exercises in improving and assessing interlocal collaboration for emergency preparedness. Method: In early 2014, 28 KIs were interviewed during 24 semistructured interviews. Interviews were recorded and analyzed to identify key themes related to emergency preparedness exercises and the enhancement and assessment of interlocal collaboration. Results: KIs perceived exercises to enhance interlocal collaboration in preparedness by promoting regional, interlocal: risk assessment; emergency plan testing and operationalization; relationship development; support for regional plans and operational structures; capability delivery practice; best practice sharing across interlocal collaborations; and engagement of elected or senior leadership in interlocal preparedness endeavors. Exercise participants, scenarios, administration, formats, and assessment strategies to promote interlocal collaboration were identified. Conclusions: Seven distinct mechanisms by which exercises can enhance interlocal collaboration that can be used to guide future research and policy development were identified. The format, scenario, participation, and administration of emergency preparedness exercises can be tailored to enhance collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Emergency Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Disaster planning
  • Disasters
  • Financing
  • Government

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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