The Challenges of Realistic Control Room Training

An Incident control room is a busy place – I’m talking in general terms here – all incidents are different but there are some common factors:
There will be a fair number of people all getting on with their own jobs – all communicating with each other and external agencies.
Probably a mixture of face to face phones and radios – so it will be noisy; you might have alarms, printers,  voices..
There’s also a lot of information to process. You’re likely to have POB data, a running event log, up to date news feeds, a map showing resource deployment, and various whiteboards and location maps.
And there’s going to be a lot of energy in the room – it’s likely that something major has happened and no matter how well prepared your team are they are going to be dealing with a new situation- so there’s lots of opportunities for things to go wrong.

Control Room Training is critical

Of course you train your ER or IM teams – traditionally this would involve  teams coming together, with telecoms and radios  etc and role-players  depending on the scenario.
There are two problems with this approach – first it’s not so easy to get people together these days. Second – it’s expensive, especially if your team are geographically diverse. Air fares and accommodation are a huge cost, and potentially a  huge time burden given evolving restrictions – not to mention the carbon impact of all that travel
We’ve  been in the emergency  training space for over 20 years. Our immersive training simulators are used by companies all over the world to create a highly realistic environment. They replicate the stress and pressure associated with a real incident, while allowing instructors to have a granular level of control and oversight of the scenario, so that students can be assessed as well as trained.

Challenges to on-site Training

2020 marked a significant drop in demand for on-site training and we spent the following year trying to come up with an online training solution which would offer all the benefits of an immersive environment without the need for everyone to be in the same space. The challenges were significant – our main issue was communication, when you’re in a big room you can talk to anyone, but recreating that flexibility in an online setting was extremely tricky. We also had to come up with a way of recreating telephones, PA’s, radios etc. All while maintaining the level of realism that our clients were used to from our ‘on site’ systems
Another key element was making the system accessible from anywhere and on relatively low bandwidth connections – most of the students were now workign at home with all the associated issues around shared bandwidth that we have all grown used to, so we spent a lot of time on our ‘pre flight checks’ !

A Cloud-based Control Room Training Simulator

After much fretting and a lot of patience from a few of our early adopters we finally rolled out our ‘Cloud OTS‘ online training simulator in early 2021 – the phrase ‘Train without travelling’ is now an attainable goal for companies of all sizes. We don’t provide the training ourselves, but companies who have used our system report that it is a highly effective and versatile alternative to on-site training, with significant cost and environmental benefits as no travel or accommodation is required.

Our systems are hosted on Amazon Web Services and can be deployed instantly – one major benefit is that the simulator is ‘software as a service’ so clients do not have the overhead of maintaining an expensive facility which is not 100% utilised

We truly believe that our system can make a significant difference to the way that emergency response/Incident management/Mem training is delivered everywhere.

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