New training software helps GMP officers prepare for major incidents

A hospital doctor studying for a PhD at the University of Salford has developed a computerised training system for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) which simulates a crisis situation to help officers prepare for major incidents.

Mar 22, 2012
By Paul Jacques
Assistant Chief Constable Ben Smith

A hospital doctor studying for a PhD at the University of Salford has developed a computerised training system for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) which simulates a crisis situation to help officers prepare for major incidents.

Using connected laptops, Dr Jane Mooney’s software simulates a music festival in Manchester where one of the stages has collapsed. The team of up to three officers – who range from sergeants to inspectors – have to respond to real-time messages to contain the incident and provide help. They can then compare their results with other teams following the session and share lessons learnt.

Teams are faced with scenarios such as establishing a safety cordon and part of the exercise allows information to be added from various sources – Fire and Rescue Services, Ambulance and local authorities, for example.

The idea emanated from the creation of technology to assist major incident training for the medical world.

Dr Mooney was visited by GMP’s Resilience Development Unit who had heard of the technology that was assisting doctors. Previously using Microsoft Powerpoint to run training, officers wanted something that could be more interactive.

Dr Mooney worked with the unit to combine e-learning into the technology; not all officers have the same knowledge and experience so the knowledge is available to dip into as required.

The exercise was created from the Bronze commander’s perspective but a new iteration will provide the same exercise from a Silver commander’s viewpoint.

It was developed as part of a research project for her PHD – Dr Mooney calls it low-tech but usable – and it is already providing that important interaction for commander training where a log is maintained of activity and decisions in these most critical of incidents.

Over 100 officers have now used the software. Inspector June Roby from the GMP Resilience Development Unit said: “We were looking for some exercise methods which proved a bit more interactive than the usual table-top and Jane’s package has been very popular with all the staff who have engaged with it. The feedback has been extremely positive with the majority of staff reporting that they found the experience worthwhile.”

Dr Mooney has received a Branch Commander’s Commendation in recognition of her work on this project. She said: “This is an example of technology that has been developed for games coming into more professional circles. It’s a much improved way for people to learn and can mirror real-life situations much more effectively than traditional classroom methods.”

Dr Mooney has been working with the university’s School of Computing, Science and Engineering to develop emergency planning software for the charity Advanced Life Support Group which provides training to save lives.

•Dr Mooney can be contacted at janemooney@hotmail.com

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