Need Help Implementing Online Training At Your Fire or Police Department?

Child Raising Hand

Learning Starts Early and Never Ends

How did you answer the question?

“Yes, we need to do something.”

“Yes, we tried, but we have to make a change.”

“Yes, we need to get started, let’s give it a try.”

“We have already started, it’s working, but we can do better.”

I recently taught a class titled, “Strategies & Tactics for Success with On-Line Training and Education.” The class focused on online training in public safety departments. The audience was Training Officers,  Directors, Chiefs, Department Budget Staff, Technology Officers, and Instructors.

Sound Familiar?

Most class attendees fell into one of the following four categories:

  1. We have been meaning to look into computer based training, but can’t seem to find the time or budget.
  2. We don’t know really how or where to begin.
  3. We need to reduce our training budget; will computer courses help me do that?
  4. Yes, we bought some on-line courses, it’s working OK, but we can do better.

NOTE: Although the class was attended primarily by fire service staff, the subject matter of Online and E-Learning could easily crossed over to law enforcement and all areas of safety training.

Why You Should Keep Reading

Attendees to the class or readers of this post (you) have an interest in learning about how to:

  1. Start using online learning courses and technology.
  2. You are in the early staging of incorporating online training and want to avoid rookie mistakes.
  3. Develop a tactical (short term) and strategic (long term) plan for using and benefiting from online learning.

Following is a summary synopsis of the class.

#1 – Start With The End In Mind

If a public safety department, police, fire, EMS, etc. is considering implementation of online learning technologies the training chief or project team leader must establish their end game goals. Using the following three principles when developing the specific goals and objectives for the project will serve as the guiding principals for the project.

  • Be specific—identify exactly what you want to accomplish with as many specific details as possible.
  • Be measurable—as the old adage says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
  • Be realistic—set goals and objectives that reach beyond the comfort zone, but are also realistic. Be careful with this one.

#2 Establish Implementation Tactics

There are ten key implementation tactics needed for successful implementation of online learning for a public safety department; they include:

  1. Establish a project team. Include other “banner carriers” and allies.
  2. Define the vision and goals. What does a successful program look like?
  3. Define learning needs and wants. Why are we doing this and what solution does it provide?
  4. Define established technology infrastructure. What does your existing technical infrastructure look like?
  5. Define existing courseware. What do already have that can be used or repurposed?
  6. Baseline available technologies and courseware. What technology is available in the marketplace?
  7. Develop implementation and phasing scenario. What is your step-by-step approach?
  8. Develop cost budgets. Consider purchasing equipment, software, hired technical assistance, and so on.
  9. Measure and evaluate cost benefits. Set milestones that are measurable, observable, and serve as progress markers.
  10. Management buy-in and funding. Get everyone on the same page and get them to support the endeavor.

Where and How To Begin

As illustrated in the 10 implementation tactics, getting started requires considerable planning, management buy-in, technology understanding, and funding. When first staring out ask yourself the following seven questions. This a good starting point and the questions will help you to understand the full needs, impact and depth of the project:

  1. What authoring system should we use?
  2. Should we buy off-the-shelf prepackaged software?
  3. Should we develop our own courses?
  4. What type of hardware do we need?
  5. Will it keep us compliant with legal requirements?
  6. How do we track and schedule our training?
  7. What class topics will be best learned through e-learning?

This post is intended to provide a short synopsis of how to get started with implementing online training programs for your department. Again, this is just a guideline to get the ball moving.

Share Your Story

If you use computer based training what was the biggest hurdle to overcome at the beginning? For example:

  • Staff acceptance
  • Management acceptance
  • Allocating funding
  • Acquiring hardware

Leave your “biggest hurdle” comment in the comment space below.

Additional Information Sources

More Ways to Learn:

  1. LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning, click here to join
  2. Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, event and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates
  3. Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
  4. Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, around twice a week on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.

On-Line Courseware Trends and Evaluation Study

On Line Learning Fire and Police Departments

On Line Learning Fire and Police Departments

There has been widespread research by academics, corporations and scientists on the effectiveness of e-learning. The overarching result of all the recent studies has been that pure online learning is as efficient as pure face-to-face learning and can be better in some cases where the student has no time limitation. It has also been found that classroom learning enhanced by some online learning is the best approach to education. Last month I listed the seven how first responders learn and assimilate information. These seven guidelines further validate a study I conducted on the status and condition of on-line leaning in the fire service. The study included the independent evaluation of several common topics of study that are currently being offered for sale to the fire service by private courseware providers. Using a national group of fire service professionals active and retired, from large metro departments, volunteer departments, academia we audited and evaluated courses based on 14 predefined criteria.

Statement of Situation

Within the public safety sector, in-particular to this assessment, the blended learning requirements of theoretical and practical fire services training activities coupled with dramatic budget constraints are creating challenges to agencies nationwide. While distance education formats have been embraced, the breadth of offerings available, the lacking mechanisms to assess quality and value, along with burdensome subscriptions costs and disconnected Learning Management Systems were identified in the study.

The Intent of the Study

  • Identify the macro trends of distance education and the associated market impacts to the public safety communities.
  • Secure and evaluate common training course modules from leading content development companies.
  • Define a course utilizing an established evaluation criterion assessment matrix and weighting system.
  • Establish an independent evaluation panel from both academia and Training Directors from notable fire service agencies/organizations.
  • Provide a summary of findings and recommendations.

Click on this link to read and download the full report. On-Line Courseware Trends and Evaluation Study, Fire Service Training

 

Avoiding Training Accidents, It’s All About Discipline

Coach Wooden Statue

Legendary Coach John Wooden

“You discipline those under your supervision to correct, to help, to improve — not to punish.” John Wooden, Legendary College Basketball Coach

As I wrote in last month’s newsletter, public safety recruit hiring seems to be on the upswing with police and fire departments nationally reporting more job openings, record numbers of applicants, and more academy classes. Concurrent with this trend is a particularly disturbing one – an apparent increase in the number of training-related accidents. Over the past 6 months it seems the number of training-related accidents is rapidly rising. If (as I perceive it) training has become more dangerous than in the past, then the big question is why? Were prior accidents unreported or under-reported? Given the 24/7 news cycle and increased reliance on social media, are accidents (even minor ones) taking on more scrutiny? Or, are we seeing a decline in discipline that’s contributing to an actual increase in accidents?

Although training-related injuries and deaths due to underlying health issues such as heart conditions are nonetheless tragic, I have been focusing in particular on training accidents and deaths not associated with health issues. The following links provide a reference to some of these:

Clearly, many training-related accidents can be attributed to a lack of discipline. This breakdown in discipline can take place at the instructor level, at the student level, or at both levels. It’s important to understand how and why those breakdowns occur. A colleague recently told me that, in his opinion, there are too many cases of “television/movie” inspired instructors. What he meant by that phrase is that the instructors believe “faster is better, stronger is superior, and toughness is admired.” This attitude (and lack of discipline) can result in a convoluted badge of machismo to be the best – at the cost of safety. Another theory is that instructors are working and training in a new era; due to budget cuts, and due to the need to get a backlog of recruits trained and out on the street, they are simply moving too fast. It’s possible that instructors are somehow encouraged to cut corners to reduce costs or get the job done more quickly. In either case, the attitude of safety is undermined, creating an environment where an accident is more likely to occur.

In order to understand how discipline relates to learning, it’s important to understand how first responders learn and assimilate information.[1][2]

    • Public safety workers are dynamic assimilators: They learn best when allowed to actively participate, practice and repeat codified sequences of behavior, as opposed to strict book learning. They are hands-on learners.
    • Public safety workers are communication-oriented learners: 1) Public safety work requires instant knowledge transmission and reception; 2) The culture of public safety is that of a large family.
    • Public safety workers are “prioritizers:” They focus their attention upon self survival, search, rescue and safety of incident victims, and then the protection of properties.
    • Public safety workers are follower/leaders: They respond to authority and expertise of their superiors and those who have lived the skills they wish to learn. Through this they gain confidence and leadership skills.
    • Public safety workers learn from peers better than unknown teachers: They view their co-workers as equals. They are “brothers and sisters,” not fellow employees. Therefore, to be most effective, the instructors must also be public safety workers who have been “in the trenches.”
    • Public safety workers are mindful of learning conscientiously: They view their education as important to themselves and the survival of the communities they serve.
    • Public safety workers prefer actual scenarios to abstract training: As hands-on learners, they don’t respond well to theory or hypothetical example. As dynamic learners, they respond best to actual critical incident scenarios. Public safety workers thrive on real life situations. They live for the “adrenaline rush” of being on a scene and responding to a crisis. So, the training must somehow re-create incident scenes to be effective.

Creating and maintaining a training environment that supports these concepts will also help support discipline among both instructor and student.

One of the most important aspects of the learning process is the opportunity for a new recruit (or seasoned veteran) to apply a newly-learned skill or to reinforce old ones. This is not to say that experience isn’t a great teacher – but learning through repetitive practice allows students (probie or veteran) to develop their cognitive skills to an autonomous level through repeated rehearsal. Having spoken to many police and firefighters, there’s always a recurring theme: “When stress, adrenaline, or disorientation occurred, I fell back on the lessons learned in training; in other words my training kicked in.” In the service of public safety, “On The Job Training” (OTJ) is not acceptable without mastery of job task fundamentals.

In the words of Vince Lombardi, one of football’s most accomplished and respected coaches, “Excellence is Achieved in the Mastery of Fundamentals.” Coach Lombardi Statue

Coach Lombardi trained his athletes for consistent performance, rather than one-time stunning plays. It takes discipline to master fundamentals and to perform consistently. Most importantly, in the world of public safety training, it takes discipline to do so safely.


[1]      Bullets are from the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/OEMS/Files_page/symposium/2010Presentations/OPE-921.pdf

Public Safety Training Newsletter Available

The Public Safety Training Newsletter began in 2003 as an information source for our customers. Our customers told us that information specific to public safety training was not available. The large publications and web sites had grown too large, too diverse and unwieldy, finding information specific to public safety training was either not available or just plain too hard to find. Listening to our customers, we decided to publish a one-stop source for news, events, technical data, product information & trends and success stories for the public safety training industry.

Interact Business Group

10 Years Later

Now, 10 years later, the Public Safety Training Newsletter has grown to over 8,000 readers and 15,000 soical network folowers. and has become the go to source for public safety training news, trends and events.

Click HERE to see the archive page of past issues and to begin receiving the newsletter.

 

Training for Mental Health Response

Brain Mental Health

Scanning the news over the past few months we have noticed a growing uptick in the number of stories involving first responders and calls involving Mental Health Issues. This got us wondering: What is going on? Are these types of calls for service being placed in a new category? Have they been underreported in the past due to negative public perception? Is mental health (finally) being recognized as a true health issue, not a social issue among the less fortunate in our society? We were shocked and amazed at what we found.

Shocking Stats

One in four adults and 10 percent of children in the United States will suffer from a mental health illness this year. Mental disorders are more common than heart disease and cancer combined — the leading causes of death.

Among all Americans, 36.2 million people paid for mental health services totaling $57.5 billion in 2006. This means the average expenditure per person was $1,591. Within this group, 4.6 million children received mental health services totaling $8.9 billion. The average expenditure per child was higher than that for the average American at $1,931.” NIMH

“You’re more likely to see someone having a panic attack than you are to see someone having a heart attack,” says Linda Rosenberg, CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council).

First A Definition

Dictionary.com defines the term “first aid” as emergency aid or treatment given to someone injured, suddenly ill, etc., before regular medical services arrive or can be reached.When you add the words “mental health” in front of it, it doesn’t necessarily change its meaning, it simply redirects it towards assisting someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis–such as helping an individual who is having a panic attack, contemplating suicide or has overdosed on drugs or alcohol. (EMS World)

The National Impact of Mental Health Disorder

    • Approximately 5 percent of U.S. residents have a serious mental illness,and 10 to 15 percent of jailed people have severe mental illness.[2]
    • An estimated 7 percent of police contacts in jurisdictions with 100,000 or more people involve the mentally ill.[3]
    • A three-city study found that 92 percent of patrol officers had at least one encounter with a mentally ill person in crisis in the previous month,[4] and officers averaged six such encounters per month.
    • The Lincoln (Nebraska) Police Department found that it handled over 1,500 mental health investigation cases in 2002, and that it spent more time on these cases than on injury traffic accidents, burglaries, or felony assaults.[5]
    • The New York City Police Department responds to about 150,000 “emotionally disturbed persons” calls per year.[6]

Common Response Solutions

Responders (police, firefighters and EMTs) encounter people with mental illness in many different types of situations, in roles that include criminal offenders, disorderly persons, missing persons, complainants, victims, and persons in need of care. According to one Texas study,[7] the five most frequent scenarios are as follows:

    • A family member, friend, or other concerned person calls the police for help during a psychiatric emergency.
    • A person with mental illness feels suicidal and calls the police as a cry for help.
    • Police officers encounter a person with mental illness behaving inappropriately in public.
    • Citizens call the police because they feel threatened by the unusual behavior or the mere presence of a person with mental illness.
    • A person with mental illness calls the police for help because of imagined threats.

These are the most common situations in which responders encounter people with mental illness. It is important to realize, though, that when police officers handle some of these situations they do not always realize that mental illness is involved (such as a shoplifting or a disorderly person). Officers may try to handle the situation as usual (by giving directions, issuing commands, or making an arrest, for example) but not get the cooperation or compliance expected, sometimes leading to escalating tension. This highlights the importance of training in mental illness recognition as well as crisis management techniques.

Other Related Problems

Problem of people with mental illness is closely connected to three other problems; 1) Homelessness, 2) Drug Abuse, and 3) Alcohol Abuse- Here are several statistics:

    • Honolulu study found that 74 percent of law violators who the police believed to have a mental disorder were also homeless.[15]
    • In London, about 30 percent of minor offenders referred for admission to a station-house diversion program for the “mentally disordered” were living on the streets.[16]

Solutions

Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental Health First Aid USA is managed, operated, and disseminated by three national authorities — the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. So far, 60,000 people have been trained in 43 states and Washington, D.C. There are 2,100 trainers, says Meena Dayak, council vice president of marketing and communications.

Participants in the training learn how to detect a number of mental illnesses — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, substance use disorders, depression, anxiety and eating disorders — and how to respond to people who have them. Their response is guided by a five-step action plan, termed “ALGEE,” which stands for:

    1. Assess for risk of suicide or harm.
    2. Listen nonjudgmentally.
    3. Give reassurance and information.
    4. Encourage appropriate professional help.
    5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

One of the program’s main goals is to erase the stigma associated with mental health illnesses. “It wasn’t long ago that cancer wasn’t openly spoken about,” says Linda Rosenberg, CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council). “Mental illness is the last illness that people talk about in whispers.” But that will change, she says, once Mental Health First Aid becomes as common as CPR training — something she sees as inevitable.

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)

CIT Training is a training program developed to help police officers react appropriately to situations involving mental illness or developmental disability. There are two nationally recognized organizations supporting CIT programs. Both organizations recognize the need for first responder mental health training. Suicide attempts and mental health crisis concerns are recognized as a priority. The organizations have established programs for disseminating recommended standards for developing, implementing and sustaining crisis intervention programs.

CIT Success Stories

    1. Las Vegas Metro Officer named CIT Officer of the Year – Brooke Lavin
    2. Every department in Maine “should strive to maintain at least one CIT officer per shift,”
    3. Mental health squad backs up law enforcement

Mental Health Response, Recent News

    • The NYPD’s Poor Judgment With the Mentally Ill—The death of Shereese Francis has rekindled a decades-long debate over the NYPD’s treatment of the mentally ill. As the first responders to all sorts of emergency calls, police officers are on the front line for just about every social problem in the city, and mental illness is no exception. The department estimates that it handles nearly 100,000 calls for “Emotionally Disturbed Persons” every year—hundreds a day. Every few years, one of those calls goes so badly that somebody dies. (continue…)
    • School Student was BipolarThe family of a Cal State San Bernardino graduate student who was fatally shot by campus police Saturday released a statement late Tuesday confirming that the man was bipolar and enrolled as a disabled student when he was killed. (continue..)
    • Officer Sentenced In Death Of Man With Mental Disabilities—A police officer was sentenced Thursday to more than four years in prison for using excessive force against a mentally disabled janitor who died after being erroneously suspected of stealing money from an ATM. (continue…)
    • Houston cops accused of deadly force on unarmed, disabled man“The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that its civil rights division is investigating allegations that Houston police officers used excessive force against unarmed suspects including the killing of an emotionally disturbed, double-amputee.” (continue…)

For more in-depth research and study on Mental Health we encourage you to visit and read the following excellent reports.

  1. People with Mental Illness / Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (COPS) – http://www.popcenter.org/problems/mental_illness/print/
  2. Governments Discover Need for Mental Health First Aid / www.Governing.com
  3. World Health Organization report “Human Resources And Training Mental Health
Endnotes:
[2] Lamb, Weinberger, and Gross (2004): 108. [Abstract only]
[3] Deane et al. (1999). [Full text]
[4] Borum et al. (1998): 401. [Abstract only]
[5] Lincoln Police Department (2004).
[6] Waldman (2004). [Full text]
[7] Peck (2003): 6. [Full text]
[15] Green (1997): 476.
[16] James (2000): 538.

3 Trends – Jobs in Public Safety

I have highlighted three job creation trends specific to public safety: internships, high school programs and veteran programs. The following articles from Emergency Management and Fire Chief Magazines respectively outline two excellent programs that are not necessarily new but are more timely and essential than ever. The third article is the announcement of the Veterans Job Corps initiative to help returning veterans. Please let me know what you think and if you have any jobs programs from your community you would like to share.

IACP Alzheimer’s Initiatives Training Program

This is such an important issue that needs exposure and publicity. With more than 5.4 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and approximately 500,000 new cases of this disease emerging each year, projections pronounce that there will be as many as 16 million Americans that will have Alzheimer’s by 2050.

To help law enforcement protect this special population, IACP’s Alzheimer’s Initiatives program is committed to helping first responders improve their knowledge and skills to safeguard this special population.

With the help of a a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, the IACP is to be commended for their active participation in this critical training and education endeavor. The following IACP summarizes it best:

It’s not a question of whether law enforcement will be dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, but rather when we’ll encounter Alzheimer’s disease, and how we’ll respond.

Training Opportunities

IACP’s Alzheimer’s Initiatives training program is currently accepting participants for December 2012 – June 2013 training sessions. The no-cost, one-day training sessions feature in-depth instruction to help your department enhance its capacity to handle calls involving people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. Click on the link below dates and locations for claases: Current Training Opportunities

This space does not allow to due justice to all the wonderful things IACP is doing to address Alzheimer’s in law enforcement so I have add below some links that are well worth your time.

More Sources of Information:

IACP Program Overview and Brochure

Alzheimer’s Association

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Alzheimers.gov

Quantifying Stress in Police Training

by John Wills

We know the importance of training in police work as it relates to our survival. Anyone who is not familiar with the axiom, The way you train, is the way you fight, has probably been hiding underneath a rock somewhere in the mountains. Stress influences the way we react to situations on the street. What we as trainers need to understand, and subsequently structure our courses to combat, is to somehow replicate that stress, and train our officers to win, in spite of the deleterious effects that stress has on our performance.

In 1998, Bruce Siddle conducted research involving officers in an identical training scenario with various stressors included. There are not many studies of this kind, since controlling all of the variables and quantifying results is an enormous task. Nevertheless, Siddle embarked on this ground breaking journey, and titled the work, Combat Human Factors: Triggering the Survival Circuit.

In the study, he discussed a great many things, to include how we shoot. He compared and contrasted Isosceles and One Hand Point shooting, as they relate to close quarter combat.

Continue reading…..

 

JOHN M. WILLS  / http://www.johnmwills.com/
 John is a former Chicago police officer and retired FBI agent. He writes both non-fiction and fiction in the form of novels, short stories, articles and poetry. John is an award-winning author who created The Chicago Warriors Thriller Series. He has published more than 125 articles in print and online (see his monthly article on officer.com) and is working on his sixth book.

 

Training Center Money; More Than One Color

When considering funding for a new public safety training facility there are at least TWO colors of money: money for construction and money for operations. Both are important, but many times the latter is the color overlooked or misunderstood.

Today I will discuss the latter. What will it cost to operate your training center on an annual basis? This is often difficult for departments to determine. For example, how many staff members or sub-contractors are needed to keep a training center operational and running efficiently? What are the estimated yearly expenses for necessities such as electricity, water, janitorial services, maintenance and other elements necessary for a smooth-running operation? Or more specifically, what are the true costs of fuel for the live-burn fire props or the cost to run the air ventilation system at the indoor shooting range?

Fire and Police Training Dollars

New Police and Fire Training Trends Emerge

Over the past couple of years I have seen several newly constructed training centers that were built with taxpayer approved bond initiatives or projects that received CIP approval prior to the 2008 economic downturn that are now facing great budget challenges for monthly and annual operations expenses. In these cases money for construction was the easy part. Now faced with budget cutbacks and layoffs, departments are faced with finding creative ways of maintaining training mandates and at the same time trying to pay the utility bills, and keep training equipment operational. We have helped training center managers re-think and modify their daily operational activities and policies. There is no one solution or “silver bullet” that can be applied to all training center sustainability challenges.  As with most things it comes down to hard work and commitment. Based on a national perspective, I see some key trends emerging. Coninue reading:

Some of the Best Training Public Safety Facilities

These facilities are not the newest or the most expensive, but they are all stand-outs for excellence in planning and execution. They are worth looking at and learning from before beginning your Training Center Business Plan to plan or build a police or fire new training center.

Click on the name of each school for their Benchmaked Report:

 
Luzerne County Community College, Public Safety Training Institute
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
 
Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy
Glenview, Illinois
 
Tarrant County College Public Safety Institute
Fort Worth, Texas
 
Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex
Ft. Pierce, Florida
 
Washoe County Regional Public Safety Training Center
Washoe County, Nevada