Blog by Brian Ward
Officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia

In a recent article, I discussed the components of Crew Resource Management (CRM). I tried to show how CRM can increase safety and efficiency on the fire ground. I also examined CRMs five major components: situational awareness, teamwork, communication, decision making, and barriers.

With this article, I’m going to try and show how you can integrate these components into a structured training session. These types of training scenarios can be used at the company level or in a more formal fire academy course.

One of the most important aspects of training is the application or the level of versatility that a certain type of training can produce. As a training officer, I look for training that can be used in multiple applications. I also seek training that is effective and cost efficient.

With the setup recommended in this article, you will need to build a story of a task or operation in your mind. By using this training method, your crew will retain more information than by just reading about an operation or by watching it performed. The two examples below are low cost and can be conducted mostly with items already in the station.

Medical Training
Allow your officers to perform a mock cardiac arrest, with a plot, in the station. The plot or story should be developed beforehand and should provide information similar to that shared by dispatch.

The company should be notified in advance and take the apparatus out of service for about 30 minutes. The firefighters and paramedics will start in their apparatus as if they just pulled up at the incident and then the time starts.

They jump off the apparatus, grab their equipment, and start working. There is some stress added with this being a timed event, just as we are timed in the field.

As the team performs the scenario, some things just flow while others have to be said. Details such as starting IVs, obtaining vitals, setting up the AED, and getting all of the equipment ready are signs a team has performed together before. This allows the lead paramedic to worry about more important details, like benchmarks, intubation, and drug dosages.

After the scenario, the officer critiques the crew on what they did well and where they could improve.

Fire Training
Another easy opportunity for training with CRM involves conducting scenario-based fire training. Throw out a problem-like a single family dwelling with fire on Side A, put a picture up on the screen or wall, and let the firefighter handle the incident.

Scenario based training is some of the best training firefighters can receive without actually being real. If the firefighter leading the training wishes to add a sense of stress to the scenario, start timing the incident to force decisions to be made, and have the other crew members participate as responding apparatus.

In order to force decisions and create pressure, the entire scenario should run between six to 12 minutes, according to the level of difficulty. Constructive criticism should be provided in a formal manner as well.

After completion of the scenario, make sure that the IC can identify the task and location of all personnel. Confirm that safety concerns were met and that benchmarks according to your standard operating procedures were identified.

Performing these types of scenarios at the company level will prepare our crews for the battles we face. However, never neglect the basics of our job, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), fire behavior, or building construction.

The understanding of these basics will lead to us performing successfully on the fire ground or the medical call. Other alternatives can be used for these scenarios as well, such as magazine covers, close call stories, and NIOSH reports.

As always train hard, take care, and be safe.

About the Author
Brian Ward is an engineer/acting officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia. He is a past training officer, chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council. He is a State of Georgia Advocate for Everyone Goes Home and the Membership Task Force Co-Chair and Live Fire Instructor for ISFSI. Brian was recently awarded the National Seal of Excellence from the NFFF/EGH.