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Business Emergency Training: Using Training Scenarios and Giving Employees a Frame of Reference

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

There are many different applications of emergency management and at all levels of analysis. Many organizations commonly have emergency plans. Depending on the nature of the business, an organization may need to run through training scenarios on a regular basis.

Training and working through various scenarios are particularly important to emergency management. It is vital for everyone to understand the general framework for handling life-threatening situations.

Many organizations run through these scenarios with their staff, particularly if there is a high risk associated with certain situations. These scenarios are critical to emergency management plans, because they give employees a frame of reference for what they need to do in a situation.

However, some people are uncomfortable in emergency scenarios that aren't real. Many people will not want to run through a scenario themselves as it can be embarrassing in front of their peers.

But leaders in charge of training scenarios need to insist that everyone run through the scenario at least once, so they have an idea of how to manage an emergency. If employees are ever faced with a serious emergency, they will remember what they did in training better than anything else they read.

Scenario walk-throughs are critical to effective emergency management. But they will hinder progress if employees are too bashful to work through the scenario on their own.

Helping Business Employees to Understand a Frame of Reference

There's a lot of great scholarly research that explains how to manage emergencies and what went wrong in different scenarios. In 2015, the United States Fire Administration published a report detailing operational lessons learned in disaster response. For those emergency managers and first responders who review these types of reports, it is often easy to sit back and analyze a situation, while making all sorts of sideline decisions when faced with the same scenario.

But real-life management of an incident is very different. All sorts of different factors come into play in an emergency and one has to be able to make good decisions quickly and easily.

Furthermore, it can be difficult for impacted individuals to remember what they read and make decisions. That is one of the many reasons why it is so important for individuals to actually work through emergency scenarios. It will only tighten their overall understanding of managing such an incident.

Emergency Management Effectiveness and Retention

There are numerous theories which argue that if people run through a scenario firsthand, they will have a better memory and understanding for handling an emergency. Also, another reason that every participant should run through a scenario is because they could be subjected to different roles in an emergency. With regular practice, staff members will develop a well-rounded approach to understanding various emergency plans.

Often, there may be a couple of individuals who are not interested in working through the scenario and prefer to watch from the sidelines. While this technique can also be an effective approach to learning different emergency plans, they still need to work through the scenario themselves and be active participants. Without practice, those people can be detrimental to the overall management of a situation and will not have a frame of reference to fall back on in a real emergency.

Employers need to emphasize the importance of running through training scenarios with their employees. Additionally, they need to insist that everyone works through the scenarios firsthand, instead of watching it from the sidelines.

It is only when employees work through the scenarios themselves that they become able to completely understand how they would handle an emergency situation. Trained employees will be better able to make the right decision in emergencies, based on the information they're given.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management Degree at American Military University.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.