Why Training Is a Perishable Skill
I just returned from Singapore after conducting a three-day training workshop on counterterrorism entitled “Countering Terrorism, Violence & Emerging Threats.” My audience was a mixture of professionals from the public and private sectors representing such diverse backgrounds as executives, security leadership, law enforcement senior staff, HR managers, and emergency medical personnel. The main objectives and benefits of the workshop were to learn the step-by-step strategies to prepare, protect, and respond to a terrorist incident. I emphasized that acts of terrorism, ranging from explosive devices to active shooters, occur around the world—and could happen anywhere at any time.
If You Don’t Use It, You Lose It
Because emergency incidents happen quickly, police may not be able to respond in time to prevent serious harm to those present at the scene. Training enables us to become familiar with individual and collective responsibilities in preventing and responding to an emergency. No single person is able to memorize every step necessary to take during a crisis; however, education, awareness, and recurring training will prepare you—mentally and physically—to respond quickly and decisively. Since most of us act—and react—differently in emergencies than under normal circumstances, training conditions people through simulated high-stress events to learn the appropriate response based on the nature of the incident.
The Fab Four
By highlighting the four phases of emergency management as fundamental principles in my instruction and curriculum, I teach my students to embrace a shared understanding about exactly how to address these phases and their critical emergency-related priorities:
- Prevention/Mitigation: preventing emergencies and mitigating the risks of their occurrence
- Preparedness: preparing to handle an incident
- Response: responding to an incident
- Recovery: recovering from an incident
You cannot address these priorities—in fact, you cannot take a single step forward—without having a clear, comprehensive and detailed response tailored specifically to the circumstances of the emergency. By helping individuals understand their precise roles should an event occur, training can prevent injuries, save lives, minimize property damage, decrease liability, and help restore the business and working environment with minimal delay.
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Exercises, awareness, and drills play a strategic role in your training. To minimize risks and maximize response and recovery capabilities, you need to practice. Also, you should expect your training needs to change as the level of acumen, resources, and emerging threat conditions evolve over time. Periodically, your training material needs to be reviewed and evaluated —internally, but also with the assistance of public sector partners and external experts. It’s important to continuously refine and improve your training program by assessing your security and safety measures in the context of other needs and objectives, such as affordability and practicality. By using lessons learned from real incidents, you can assure that your program content is current and reflects the most up-to-date training strategies.
Collaborate, Coordinate, and Integrate
Because involving external resources early and at every step in the training design process enhances the core curriculum, you should be diligent, proactive, and continuously committed to partnering with other entities, including law enforcement, fire safety officials, emergency medical services, and subject matter security experts. Training should address the diverse needs of people, taking into account the specialized needs of those with physical, sensory, motor, developmental and mental challenges, or limited English proficiency. By trying to find innovative ways to translate information into interactive training platforms such as workshops that engage your audience, you will teach the importance of coordinated action in crisis situations when individuals don’t have time to properly think through the implications of every step.