Learning Processes in Hard Skills Training

An observation of training delivery in volunteer training culture.

I have met many great experienced and dedicated members within the EMS community of professionals, volunteers and semi-professional volunteers. I have had the pleasure to train a lot of different teams around the country and discuss their needs, operations, team dynamics and makeup. During these times and in a high proportion of our discussions, there seems to be a similar response to previous training delivery in regards to what they have learnt, being “this is the way we have to do it, because someone said that was the way".

While I’m not against tradition - if tradition has root in logical systems I do struggle (as we all should) with ‘dogma’ also known as "we’ve always done it this way". It has been shown is not a sustainable approach to risk management or training in hard skills.

As a trainer and outdoor professional I feel this, in some ways, is not a bad statement. It does identify that their past training was to a level that could be retained by the group for use, however it could identify a failure in the systemic delivery of past courses to deliver to a level of training that allows self-management in the environments the teams operate in and deal with.

I would like to challenge us as trainers and facilitators, some professional and some volunteer, with the following concept moving forward as a way to assist in future proofing a team’s field safety and their learning culture.

Consider adding the following concept to your training, ‘Why, Safe, Works?’. What is meant by this is “Why are we doing it this way? Is it safe for us and the conditions? Does it work or is there a better way?." No team leader or member should be doing things without an awareness as to why or how, even if that is in a debrief (cue another rant) to help develop and grow the teams scope of ability and dynamic adjustment.

I do understand that this will mean that we will need to, for want of a better word "justify" our training agenda during courses. That we will need to make the training contextual to the group, adding more work but to a better level of training. This in turn should set up the teams with a culture of personal assessment, awareness and review regarding the systems they use and if they are fit for the environments they work in.

As trainers it is our role to maintain the highest standards in currency and best practice but should also mean that when we meet with a team for training we should be open and aware to discuss the pros and cons of any ‘new’ system we introduce that could benefit them. That way they are equipped with knowledge to assess the techniques relevance and have a quantifiable thought process as to why they are using any specific technique.

So, in short, let us continue training to a high professional level as we should and in addition grow the concept of ‘Why, Safe & Works?’ that allow the teams to assess where and how to apply it in the field.

Never just say ‘this is the way’ rather have reason for why we are delivering.

Thank you for listening.

Gideon Geerling

RR+R Facilitator