IFMA Silicon Valley

Attendees praise realism and effectiveness of the tabletop exercise

Members of the Silicon Valley chapter of the International Facility Management Association deal with the threat of earthquakes and numerous other situations that have the potential for disaster. It was only natural, then, that business continuity was chosen as the topic of a training workshop. “We decided to offer the Disaster Experience as a half-day workshop,” said Ralph Buchanan, IFMA-SV Board member and chair of the professional development committee, “based on recommendations from other chapters who had either presented the exercise or attended it.”

The Disaster Experience was developed and is conducted by Gainesville, Virginia-based Attainium Corp. “Attainium was thorough in their planning for the program,” Buchanan said. “The asked about attendee demographics, issues in the Bay area, and they did an excellent job of putting the exercise together. The scenario was realistic and relevant to the concerns of facility mangers in our area.”

Attendee Jeet Shah, a project manager for EMCOR Facilities Services at Lam Research in Fremont, California, had never participated in a tabletop exercise before but thought the course would be helpful to him in his disaster planning. “There’s always a tendency to jump in without all the info, try to do some things, then ending up retracking,” Shah said. “Doing the exercise made it clear that it was better to take a few minutes to get into what is going on, discuss it, then act. If people jumped the gun, at least they did it in a classroom situation rather than in an actual disaster.”

“There was a lot of value in sitting down and going through what’s in your plan as if you really were in an emergency,” said Elijah Cipielewski, security department head for Jabil in [city], California. “I particularly like the group discussion and the teamwork aspect of the exercise.”

“The teamwork was great,” Shah said. “Everyone did things a little differently, so we learned from each other and were exposed to various approaches. For me it was a good exercise; it unfolded like things really happen – not in an organized way. It showed how to gather information and fit the response into the plan I already have.”

“We got excellent feedback from all the attendees,” Buchanan said, “and many thought the exercise should be repeated. They liked the format and the interaction. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.”

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