North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and connected seas

Tsunami Information Centre

General Information

Exercises are activities that consider or simulate a real life situation so that an agency is able to review or test procedures and practice participants in defined roles. The Tsunami Wave exercises are aimed at testing official communication links for messagedissemination from international warning centres to national, provincial and local jurisdictions and the general public. Organizational decision making processes about public warnings and evacuations can also be tested.

For these international exercises, countries are provided tsunami scenario(s) and then each country is given the opportunity to decide how to test their system’s responsiveness. Testing can range from straight forward communications tests of principal emergency contacts, to full-scale alerting and ‘warm-body’ evacuations of people from tsunami hazard zones.

It is important that local authorities, emergency services, local utility and infrastructure providers, government agencies and other local partner agencies (such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent where applicable) work, plan, train, exercise and respond together. Research shows that people generally respond to an emergency in the same way that they have been trained.

International and most importantly, national and local exercises are a good way to measure the effectiveness of plans and allow an opportunity to practice skills according to a scenario in a simulated emergency environment. While the UNESCO/IOC Tsunami Wave exercises are an international undertaking, they allow for adaptation and customization at the national, provincial and/or local levels to:

  • Improve coordination,
  • Improve operational readiness,
  • Improve response time, especially important for local tsunamis,
  • Identify planning weaknesses,
  • Identify resource gaps,
  • Improve inter-agency coordination and communications,
  • Provide training,
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities,
  • Evaluate plans, policies and procedures,
  • Test equipment, especially communications methods to the last kilometre,
  • Improve individual performance,
  • Demonstrate capability,
  • Develop the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to participate in emergencies,
  • Gain public recognition of emergency programmes and promote public awareness

The exercise development process is designed to be flexible enough to meet the unique needs of the country/agency using it. Therefore, each milestone should be designed, tailored and applied in a manner that suits the country/agency’s specific objectives and capabilities.


Source : IOC/UNESCO Manuals and Guides, 58