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Exercise | Is Your City Ready to Respond?

Practice Response through Exercise

Scripture Foundation:

James 2:14-26

Responding as a ReadyCity is as simple as taking all the training and planning you have completed up to this point and putting it into practice.

Now that you have learned about crises common to your Christian community; networked with others to develop your readiness plans with supplies ready; and have even practiced plans, you are almost ready to respond!

However, the real test comes at the point a real emergency happens to you or those God places in your path.

When any emergency occurs, whether it is on the road, home from work, your friend calls and their son was killed in an auto accident, your church was burned down, you have five minutes to shelter in your home from a tornado, or you learn that a pandemic has been declared, you want to be ready to give an answer for the Hope of Christ within you. Any emergency, large or small, presents “Jesus” opportunities to respond as Christ would and to pray for those around you and find ways to serve them. You are in this place providentially. What does God want you to do?

Using the material below, see how your plans would hold up in the face of a disaster. Adjust plans as needed to strengthen your Biblical Readiness.

Think Through Your Response Strategy

Make a list of the types of emergencies for which you may be called upon to respond. If you are a medical person or first responder of any kind, emergency responses may obviously vary.

Personal Emergencies:

Identify as many small emergencies first that may be personal, such as with your family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors (you may have a handicapped neighbor).

Example: house fire, local flooding, earthquakes, neighbor had loss of job, etc.

Church Emergencies:

Identify those emergencies that you may respond to at your church (a compassionate care program, an incident because you are a law enforcement officer or child care worker).

Example: death of pastor, child kidnapped, missionary team kidnapped, etc.

Community Emergencies:

Identify your communities’ most commonly known emergencies depending upon your area (listen to emergency managers to hear what those are for your area).

Example: drugs, gang violence, loitering kids, theft, domestic abuse, etc.

State/National Emergencies:

Consider what types of national emergencies may affect you, i.e. pandemic, major hurricane, dirty bomb going off in your city, etc.

Example: flu outbreak, active shooter, etc.

Identify the types of ways you are able to respond to crisis with your partners. Take each scenario and develop a step-by-step response and use this when activating; i.e. flooding in nearby town, volunteer with your ReadyCity, assist one church to provide health supplies, offer to provide child care to a person in distress.

Personal Emergencies:

Church Emergencies:

Community Emergencies:

State/National Emergencies:

Determine how many of these types of emergencies and your pre-determined responses could be used in unknown emergencies of all kinds. In other words, how can you best adjust what your response is to fit a need? What are the principles you used to determine your response level to any of the types? Test out your types in as many ways as possible.

Response Drills

Response drills are a set of scenarios for you to think through how you would respond spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically to the needs presented. Use the Spiritual, Emotional, Mental and Physical (SEMP) Response checklist provided in the download materials to guide you in the process.

Practice Scenarios to Use in Table Top Exercise

Scenario #1

There has been a microburst (A very localized column of sinking air, producing damaging divergent and straight-line winds at the surface that are similar to, but distinguishable from, tornadoes, which generally have convergent damage.) in your neighborhood. Your home, as well as the homes of three of your neighbors, have been damaged and are not able to be lived in. What would you do to respond to your own family’s needs? What would you do to respond to your neighbors?

Scenario #2

There was a train carrying a container of ammonia that wrecks and causes a spill. There is an area of 15 square miles that need to be evacuated in your city. Within the 15 mile radius there is a school, your church, a shopping center, and a retirement community. How do you help respond?

Scenario #3 is provided for a table top exercise in the download materials. This more comprehensive scenario includes a major earthquake in a metropolitan area.

CEN has a community wide table top specific to your church and community that can be updated and used to facilitate and test your ReadyCity response. Contact CEN for more information.

Ongoing Training Suggestions

Biblical readiness means being spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically ready to respond to emergencies as faithful Christ-followers, praying, caring for survivors, and sharing the hope we have in Jesus Christ. How ready are you? The fact is most of us Christians aren’t ready. Not by God’s standard. But unlike those who think that readiness has just one purpose: surviving to fight another day, readiness is meant to be a way of life for Christians. The Apostle Peter says to the church of his day, “So if your faith remains strong even after being tried by fiery trial, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Christ is revealed to the whole world” (I Peter 1:7).

The ReadyCity understands our current situation is a test to determine our faithfulness to God.

So what is required to be biblically ready for the test: to withstand the tests that come our way and to help others through similar trials? Biblical readiness requires

  1. Responsiveness - measuring personal readiness and the current readiness of Christians, the church, and community, and the times to establish a plan to be ready to respond. Biblical Example: Jeremiah, testing the mettle of God’s people.
  2. Engagement - covenants and commitments made to care for others during crisis and disaster in defined areas of responsibility called Response Areas. Response Areas are geographic areas in which Christians, churches, and Christian organizations take responsibility to network, prepare and respond to crisis and disaster together. Biblical Example: Nehemiah, rebuilding the walls.
  3. Resilience - spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical resilience gained through keeping covenants and commitments through the daily practice of worship, prayer, and obedience to God, practicing emergency responses of all kinds, and responding as God leads in prayer. Biblical Example: Mordecai and Esther - for such a time as this - and the Full Armor of God.
  4. Replication - to live as examples of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, actively praying and caring for others and sharing the hope we have in Jesus Christ before, during, and after crisis or disaster. Biblical Example: Jesus’ life on the road to the cross and Paul before King Agrippa.
  5. Remember that Biblical Readiness is a process and there is always something more we can do to further prepare. To help provide a source of information and training available, CEN has compiled a “Resource” section on our site where we will continue to add trainings, services and products that will help you in the Biblical Readiness Journey

Spiritual, Emotional, Mental & Physical (SEMP) Response Checklist

Consider the following in light of the Pray-Care-Share process.

Prepare & Protect

  • What are our priorities?
  • What are our initial actions? What message do we need to communicate, and to whom? What if systems fail?
  • Who are vulnerable populations, and who may require aid? How will we deliver it?
  • What are the hazards?
  • What are our needs for supplies, etc.?
  • Do we have our pray-care-share officers in place?


  • Mobilize and position emergency equipment
  • Evacuate or shelter-in-place
  • Provide food, water, shelter, medical services
  • Initiate continuity plans
  • Assess and restore damaged services and systems
  • Coordinate among local responders, government agencies, and private sector organizations
  • Implement Pray-Care-Share plans


  • Provide relief
  • Distribute disaster assistance
  • Assess damage
  • Form community committee to plan long-term recovery
  • Repair infrastructure
  • Restore housing
  • Address spiritual, emotional and mental recovery needs


  • What hazards have been identified in the community?
  • What steps can we take to mitigate risks?
  • What steps is the community taking to mitigate community-wide risks?
  • How can private sector organizations work with public sector officials?
  • How can we build the Pray-Care-Share resiliency in our community?

Hot Wash

  • What gaps in our organization/community plans were revealed?
  • What obstacles must we overcome or conflicts resolve?
  • What strengths in our organization/community plans were proven by this exercise?
  • Who within and outside of our organizations do we need to meet with to develop and improve our emergency plans? What information do you need from them?
  • List three to five short-term and three to five long-term actions for follow-up.
  • How can we improve our Pray-Care-Share response?

Table Top Exercise/Scenario #3

Natural Disaster – Major Earthquake Summary

Scenario Overview


1,400 fatalities; 100,000 hospitalizations

Infrastructure Damage

150,000 buildings destroyed, 1 million buildings damaged

Evacuations/Displaced Persons

300,000 households


From hazardous materials, in some areas

Economic Impact

Hundreds of billions

Potential for Multiple Events

Yes, aftershocks

Recovery Timeline

Months to years

General Description

Earthquakes occur when the plates that form under the Earth’s surface suddenly shift, and most earthquakes occur at the boundaries where the plates meet. A fault is a fracture in the Earth’s crust along which two blocks of the crust have slipped with respect to each other. The magnitude of an earthquake, usually expressed by the Richter Scale, is a measure of the amplitude of the seismic waves. The intensity, as expressed by the Modified Mercalli Scale, is a subjective measure that describes how strong a shock was felt at a particular location.

The Richter Scale is logarithmic so that a recording of 7, for example, indicates a disturbance with ground motion ten times as large as a recording of 6. A quake of magnitude 2 is the smallest quake normally felt by people.

Earthquakes with a Richter value of 6 or more are commonly considered major; great earthquakes have magnitude of 8 or more. The Modified Mercalli (MM) Scale expresses the intensity of an earthquake’s effects in a given locality in values ranging from I to XII. The most commonly used adaptation covers the range of intensity from the condition of “I – Not felt except by a very few under especially favorable conditions,” to “XII – Damage total. Lines of sight and level are distorted. Objects are thrown upward into the air.”

In this scenario, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake occurs along a fault zone in a major metropolitan area (MMA) of a city. MM Scale VIII or greater intensity ground shaking extends throughout large sections of the metropolitan area, greatly impacting a six-county region with a population of approximately 10 million people. Subsurface faulting occurs along 45 miles of the fault zone, extending along a large portion of highly-populated local jurisdictions, creating a large swath of destruction. Soil liquefaction occurs in some areas, creating quicksand-like conditions.

Timeline/Event Dynamics – While scientists have been predicting a moderate to catastrophic earthquake in the region sometime in the future, there were no specific indications that an earthquake was imminent in the days and weeks prior to this event.

Damage includes a large multi-state area of several hundred square miles. Rapid horizontal movements associated with the earthquake shift homes off their foundations and cause some tall buildings to collapse or “pancake” as floors collapse down onto one another. Shaking is exaggerated in areas where the underlying sediment is weak or saturated with water. Note: In the central and eastern United States, earthquake waves travel more efficiently than in the western United States. An earthquake of a given size in the central and eastern United States may cause damage over a much broader area than the same size earthquake in California.

Several hours later, an aftershock of magnitude 8.0 occurs. Based on past events, additional aftershocks are possible. Sizeable aftershocks (7.0 to 8.0 in magnitude) may occur for months after the original jolt.

Secondary Hazards/Events – As a result of the earthquake, hazardous contamination impacts of concern include natural gas compression stations and processing plants, oil refineries and major tank farms, and natural gas/crude oil pipelines. In addition, more than 2,000 spot fires occur and widespread debris results. Flooding may occur due to levee failures and breaks in water mains and sewage systems.

Transportation lines and nodes, power generation and distribution, communications lines, fuel storage and distribution, and various structures (ranging from dams to hospitals) may be damaged and will require damage assessment in order to continue operating. Reduced availability of services will be disruptive and costly.

Ground shaking from the earthquake has generated massive amounts of debris (more than 120 million tons) from collapsed structures. In addition, fuel pumps in several gas stations have sustained damages, leaking thousands of gallons of gasoline into the streets. There are numerous reports of toxic chemical fires, plumes with noxious fumes, and spills. Several other local waste treatment facilities have reported wastewater and sewage discharges. A large refining spill has contaminated the port facility and is spilling into the harbor. Significant concern for spilled hazardous materials from storage, overturned railcars, and chemical stockpiles make progress very slowly as triage is conducted.

Key Implications

Approximately 1,400 fatalities occur as a direct result of the earthquake. More than 100,000 people are injured and continue to overwhelm area hospitals and medical facilities, most of which have sustained considerable damage.

Approximately 18,000 of the injured require hospitalization. As many as 20,000 people are missing and may be trapped under collapsed buildings and underground commuter tunnels.

More than 1 million buildings were at least moderately damaged (40% of the buildings) and more than 150,000 buildings have been completely destroyed

Service disruptions are numerous to households, businesses, and military facilities. Medical services are overwhelmed and functioning hospitals are limited. Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) stations and trucks were also damaged. Bridges and major highways are down or blocked and damaged runways have caused flight cancellations. There are widespread power outages and ruptures to underground fuel, oil, and natural gas lines. Water mains are broken. Wastewater primary receptors have broken, closing down systems and leaking raw sewage into the streets. As a result, public health is threatened.

More than 300,000 households have been displaced, and many businesses have lost employees and customers. The port has been adversely affected in its capacity to provide export/import and loading/unloading capabilities, and damage to vital parts of the communications infrastructure has resulted in limited communications capabilities.

The disruption to the nation’s economy could be severe because the earthquake impacts major supply and transportation centers. Reconstruction, repairs, disposal, and replacement of lost infrastructure will cost billions of dollars. Replacement of lost private property and goods could also cost billions. An overall national economic downturn is probable in the wake of this event.

Mission Areas Activated:

Prevention/Deterrence/Protection – After the earthquake occurs, actions should be taken to protect critical facilities from terrorist attacks and to maintain civil order.

Emergency Assessment/Diagnosis – Disaster assessments and aerial reconnaissance are necessary. Using real- time seismic data, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) runs an earthquake model to provide a preliminary “best guess” at the level of expected damage, subject to confirmation or modification through remote sensing and field assessments. Assessment teams must be deployed and remote sensing initiated.

Emergency Management/Response – Hazardous material spills must be managed. Emergency medical treatment, shelters, and food must be provided. A Joint Information Center (JIC) is established, and search and rescue teams must be placed on alert, some of which should be activated and deployed. Public utilities and other basic-needs services must be repaired as quickly as possible, and damage assessments should be conducted.

Incident/Hazard Mitigation – Federal support will be required to coordinate the development of plans to execute mitigation efforts to lessen the effects of future disasters. Mitigation to minimize or avoid future impacts would largely be an issue for recovery and restoration.

Public Protection – Structural engineers are inspecting critical building, bridge, freeway, waste facilities, etc., and inspection teams are deployed to inspect hundreds of homes for safe habitability.

Victim Care – The massive number of injured and displaced persons require a warning order for the response of Task Forces for the delivery of mass care and health and medical services. Temporary housing strategies must be considered.

Investigation/Apprehension – Not applicable (natural disaster).

Recovery/Remediation – Hazardous materials will contaminate many areas, and decontamination and site restoration will be a major challenge.