Often the cost of a new piece of equipment, or introducing a new procedure or changing an old one can be measured in the work performed by training staff to disseminate and communicate these changes. A new $800 appliance can lead to multiples of that cost in hours of time in training staff, travelling to stations to visit platoons and shifts, or booking truck companies off to travel to a training center to receive the new information and train on a particular procedure or evolution. This can also take weeks, or even months to get critical information out to firefighters that they could find useful on their next call.
The irony is most of us are carrying around in our pockets the technology to reduce this process down to a few hours! A smartphone with a camera, in combination with simple video editing software that comes with the Microsoft or Apple operating systems can enable you to capture and edit video demonstrations quickly and easily – and it doesn’t take a lot of technical skills to do it. Smartphones now have high resolution video capability on par with dedicated video camera systems, and the same editing software you might use to produce a family vacation video is feature filled enough to make simple captioned videos that are a few minutes in length. Training Officers don’t have to be movie stars or even narrate these videos – in fact the ambient noises help firefighters orient themselves recognizing equipment and scene conditions as they would hear them when they perform the evolution. For instance we all know the sound of a pump tells us a lot about what is going on with that pump, when it is working, and when it is not.
In the example here, we added a new portable pump to our tanker, along with a jumbo siamese appliance to provide an immediate pressurized water supply. The need to familiarize everyone with the operation of the new pump, the jumbo siamese appliance, location of equipment and general sequence of process was captured with an iPhone 6, and then loaded into Microsoft Movie Maker and captions were added to denote the steps as they were demonstrated by an instructor.
This video was then inserted into a ready-to-run exercise refresh template with the video and a skills checklist which instructors and firefighters are familiar with and added to the online monthly drill package. The filming took 30 minutes and the editing took about 1 hour – the ready-to-run exercise course was created with the course wizard in about 15 minutes. Total time for course creation, an hour 1 hour, 45 minutes. With instant publishing, all crews could access the course immediately. As crews run the course, life-long learning records are updated, maintaining a record of successful delivery and receipt of the new training.
Don’t underestimate the value of simplicity. There is a tendency to think of e-learning/e-training as requiring complex production skills and hundreds of hours of work to produce a course – this is not always the case, especially with short, needs-driven evolutions like this one.