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Episode 75: The 7 Deadly Sins of Exercises

Last week’s podcast is all about sin. Vanessa’s guest is Rick Christ, a senior consultant at Crisis Prevention and Response, Inc., and a FEMA Master Exercise Practitioner. Rick lays out his seven deadly sins of crisis management exercises. The sins are mistakes organizations commonly make in preparing for and conducting exercises to demonstrate their readiness to respond to a disaster. Vanessa draws Rick out on the details and asks what organizations can do to avoid committing the seven sins. Rick and Vanessa hit on these key points:

  • One problem with traditional crisis response is it is usually limited to response, leaving out such critical steps as prevention and mitigation. As Rick puts it: “After I break all your windows and fill your basement with water, I leave.”
  • Organizations don’t put enough effort into our Exercise Evaluation Guides. Rick says, “The difference between having fun with your toys and an exercise is measuring against your goal and recording that on your EEG.”
  • Too many organizations exercise specific scenarios rather than capabilities. As Vanessa says, “The crisis is insignificant; I don’t care how it happened. The issue is, it happened.”

Rick also explains what he means by saying most organizations exercise too big and dream too small, and he and Vanessa bond over their shared connections to Virginia, his current home, and the state she grew up in.


“The 7 Deadly Sins of Emergency Management,” presentation by former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate at

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Rick Christ, guest

Rick Christ is a Senior Consultant at Crisis Prevention and Response, Inc., and a FEMA Master Exercise Practitioner. He is a former firefighter who designs, delivers, and evaluates readiness exercises to improve resilience to all hazards. He has worked in wilderness search and rescue and led a strike team of human remains detection canines and their handlers in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Vanessa Mathews, host

Vanessa Mathews is the founder and chief resilience officer of Asfalis Advisors, where they are focused on protecting the legacy of the leaders they serve through business resilience.  Before becoming an entrepreneur, Mathews developed global crisis management and business continuity programs for government and private sector organizations to include Lowe’s Companies, Gulfstream Aerospace, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Jon Seals, producer

Jon Seals is the editor in chief at Disaster Recovery Journal, the leading magazine/event in business continuity. Seals is an award-winning journalist with a background in publication design, business media, content management, sports journalism, social media, and podcasting.

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