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Abstract: This case study tells the story of San Jose, California, one of the first 27 cities in the country to participate in a federal domestic preparedness program. Between 1997 and 1999, a specially created city task force mounted several full-scale terrorist attack exercises, but--despite the best of intentions--found all of them frustrating, demoralizing, and divisive, creating ill will between the exercise planners and the first responders. In response, the San Jose task force took a step back and analyzed their situation. In place of traditional full-scale exercises, San Jose drew on several existing prototypes to create a new facilitated exercise model that emphasized teaching over testing, and was much better received by first responders. For teaching flexibility, the case has been divided into three parts.
Learning Objective: The main case describes San Jose's early experience, ending at a crucial moment, when the task force was forced to face the fact that its approach was not working. It is designed to spark a class discussion about what seems to be going awry, and how the problems might be solved.