Training: Start to Finish

April 08, 2011

Jim Fitzsimmons
Associate Director, Campus Recreation and Wellness
University of Nevada, Reno

The old adage ‘judgment comes from experience and good judgment comes from bad experience’ holds true in just about all facets of life. I find this especially true in how we train our staff members for everyday operations and emergencies.

Think about how you train your staff to respond to various emergencies, be it power outage, medical emergency or evacuation. What do you focus on? At what stage of the emergency to you start your training and where does it stop?

Experience and observation has shown that most organizations train for emergencies by focusing on the emergency itself and not on the follow up, documentation or debriefing. But much of the litigation that arises from such incidents is based on how prepared we were prior to the incident, and how we handled the post incident care and documentation.

All of us can take a page from the aquatics playbook and conduct ‘Red Shirt’ drills. In effect, these drills transition from normal operations through the incident to completion of paperwork and the debriefing of the primary actors and witnesses. Our experience has been that an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that looks great on paper may have a few kinks in it when we run it for real. You may find there is an issue with staff recognizing an emergency and responding in a timely manner. Occasionally the initial confusion will lead to mistakes and lost time. You are never going to know if your EAP really works unless you test it.

Have your staff write incident/accident reports on the drill, and if you have a standard form use it so they become comfortable with it. This as a good opportunity to ‘teach’ your employees how to complete an incident/accident report in a fashion that will still be useful in one or two years. Remind them to be clear, detailed and complete in their descriptions of what happened. Remind them to just report the facts and not make judgments or include personal opinions.

If you have the opportunity, take your training documentation and sit down with your Risk Manager or better yet Legal Counsel and ask them if they would be comfortable going to court with your documents. Share any feedback you get with your staff – it can only make them better.

Documentation of the Training

Like most organizations, you probably hold employee orientations and in-service trainings on a regular basis. Many people fail to recognize that these training sessions are a critical part of your risk management plan and an important opportunity to document the ‘reasonable’ steps you are taking to prevent incidents and accidents.

The following documents should be part of every training and kept in an annual training file.

  • Agenda including: Date, Time, Location and Topics covered.
  • Sign In Sheet: Documents who was there for future reference.
  • Exit Test or check list for skills.
  • Any outlines or materials associated with the training.

Remember if is not written down, it was not done.

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