Do you want to take your crisis simulation exercises to the next level?


Feel like your Tabletop Exercises have hit the limit in terms their effectiveness and realism? Then you should consider using a SimCell.

What’s a SimCell?

A SimCell (Simulation Cell) is a location, usually a room, where role players act out various characters during exercise play. Here are some examples of roles that might be simulated during an exercise:

  • Media – A reporter or news channel looking for an update on the ongoing crisis
  • Regulators – Federal or other government representatives requesting to speak to someone about the emergency
  • Neighbor – A local member of the community that is concerned about what’s happening down the street at your facility
  • Concerned Family Member – An employee’s wife or husband calling in about the explosion that they heard about on the news or radio
  • Clients – A client might call to find out if their next order might be impacted by the ongoing issue or how they could be victims of the cyber-attack
  • Internal Leadership – There is usually one or more senior leaders that want to know what’s going on in the middle of a crisis and in-between briefings. This is usually because the organization doesn’t have a good briefing cycle system set up or has trust in the crisis team.

The list mentioned above is just a sample and your own SimCell role players will depend on your exercise objectives and scenario.

Related: Introduction to Crisis Simulation Exercises – eLearning Course

Usually a SimCell is utilized as part of a more advanced exercise where there needs to be more realism injected into the training event. Think of this as a step up from your standard Tabletop Exercise where you would actually want to test communications, coordination and even systems rather than just discuss them.

If you decide to have a SimCell in your next exercise, ensure that you plan in advance. There needs to be consideration towards what roles need to be represented and at what point in the exercise do they get introduced. Timing is everything when you have role players injecting information via various methods of communication. The role player could start by sending emails or text messages to exercise participants and then progress to phone calls or even face-to-face conversations. Again, this all depends on what roles are being represented and how those messages would be delivered. Also consider how individuals and teams may respond to your role players and injects that you plan to send. Ask yourself; what response am I looking to get from this inject?

If you would like more information on how to set up a SimCell, please don’t hesitate to contact me. [email protected] or +1.401.236.1363 x714

Rob Burton

Rob Burton

Rob is a Principal at PreparedEx where he manages a team of crisis preparedness professionals and has over 20 years of experience preparing for and responding to crises. Part of his leadership role includes assisting PreparedEx clients in designing, implementing and evaluating crisis, emergency, security and business continuity management programs. During his career Rob has worked for the US State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, as a crisis management consultant in Pakistan and Afghanistan where he negotiated with the UN and Pashtun tribal warlords and he served with the United Kingdom Special Forces where he operated internationally under hazardous covert and confidential conditions. Rob was also part of a disciplined and prestigious unit The Grenadier Guards where he served Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Palaces in London. Rob was a highly trained and experienced infantryman serving in Desert Storm and commanded covert operational teams and was a sniper. Rob has keynoted disaster recovery conferences and participated in live debates on FOX News regarding complex security requirements and terrorism. Rob has a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.