Original Publication
Open Access

Pandemic Scenario Tabletop Exercise

Published: August 27, 2007 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.692

Included in this publication:

  • Incident Command System.doc
  • Instructor's Guide.doc
  • Table Top Exercise.doc
  • Evaluation Form.doc

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


State governments have been charged with planning for a worldwide or nationwide pandemic using the avian (H5N1) flu as a model since it has the potential to be the next pandemic. This is an active-learning large and small group tabletop exercise designed to prepare learners for a pandemic. A tabletop exercise is a paper-based, time-sequenced activity where participants take their own role in a fictitious scenario based on possible or probable events. As the pandemic emerges on paper, the groups work the scenario and face not only epidemiologic and clinical issues, but moral and professional issues as well. Suitable for medical students, residents or practicing physicians this activity can stand alone as a 2-hour unit or be part of a larger emergency preparation workshop. Participants are instructed to work the scenario as if it is happening in real time. The significance of our tabletop exercise is to place medical students into the scenario of an avian flu pandemic.

In our case, the development of this resource has resulted in a critical collaboration between state and local government and medical school, which can be accessed in the future. As for student evaluation of the exercise, third-year medical students rated this exercise highest of all activities during a week-long educational program. The tabletop exercise may stand alone or be linked with other content relating to emergency management or the threat of the avian (H5N1) flu as the cause of a pandemic. Because learners are typically unfamiliar with the concept of incident command, it is recommended that the exercise includes a presentation on this topic between the second and third stages of the exercise.

Educational Objectives

By the end of the module, the learner will be able to:

  1. Practice the transition to an incident command system in order to effectively manage a regional emergency response.
  2. Recognize the importance of establishing and maintaining effective communication among appropriate personnel and agencies during a large-scale emergency.
  3. Promote advanced pandemic planning between the medical community and other agencies.

Author Information

  • Janet Lindemann, MD: Sanford School of Medicine The University of South Dakota
  • Matthew Owens, MD: State of South Dakota Physician Leader
  • Chris Qualm: State of South Dakota Department of Health
  • Sandy Frentz: City of Sioux Falls Health Department
  • Chuck Kevghas: State of South Dakota Department of Health

None to report.

None to report.


Lindemann J, Owens M, Qualm C, Frentz S, Kevghas C. Pandemic scenario tabletop exercise. MedEdPORTAL. 2007;3:692. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.692