September 15, 2014
Developing a large scale emergency training day for Titan Recreation
Alison Wittwer MA; CSCS;CPO;
Safety and Aquatics Coordinator
After attending an aquatics conference in the fall of 2011, and enjoying a presentation on emergency training for lifeguards, I had an epiphany. Rather than have each coordinator conduct emergency training for their individual areas of supervision, why not organize an all Rec staff, large scale emergency and building evacuation training the day before the start of the spring semester? A huge undertaking to be sure, with many variables and hurdles to consider.
As recreation professionals, we all understand that organizing and implementing a large scale event from birth to fruition involves many hours of planning and development. So I started with the basics: who; what; when; where; why; and most importantly – HOW?
How: How can I get the professional staff to buy in and commit to the weekend, and sell this to their student employees, when nothing like this has been done in the past? How can I get them excited and confident to be part of this training as a coach and instructor when they are not certified CPR instructors themselves? How can I make this the best and most productive training event that our students have ever experienced? How can I get this training completed in 4 hours, keep 120 students active, involved and interested, and still open the SRC for normal operation following the training? Those are the questions I posed to myself and thought through before I presented it to staff. The other questions were easy to answer.
What: CPR and first aid refresher performed in 8-10 person teams in a stressfull, loud, anxious environment. Each student will be assessed by their staff “coach” using a CPR/AED checklist with a brief period of feedback following the skills assessment. In the second half of the morning, provide first aid and CPR scenarios within the building including evacuation drills and practice. Exceptional students will be awarded a trip to the “prize table”. A graphic, 12 minute video will open the session to get student attention, followed by a short outline of what will be accomplished and expectations of the day.
Since I love alliteration, we called the training “wRECkage weekend” because it will take place on the weekend before the semester begins. Four hours of non- stop, in-your-face training. The lifeguards will also attend a 4 hour training, in addition to wRECkage.
Download the following:
CPR checklist: www.sportrisk.com/_archive/cpr_aed_checklist.xlsx
Gym layout: www.sportrisk.com/_archive/Map.pdf
Where: SRC Gymnasium – courts 1 & 2
When: Saturday before the semester starts. Lifeguards also attend training on Sunday, hence the title “”wRECkage weekend”.
Who: Mandatory for all Recreation Staff employees
Why: to ensure that all students and professional staff are trained and retrained in emergency situations, building evacuation and annual CPR refreshers
How : to get professional staff involvement
- Director must support and be involved with the training and encourage and require that professional staff sell this idea to their student staff
- I talked about this training months in advance to get the students excited and ready for something new.
- Each professional staff was assigned a task to complete on my timeline: Nametags; sign in sheets; pencils; cleaning and counting manikins; finding prizes and giveaways; purchasing food for BBQ; setting up the scenarios; ordering T shirts; checking audio visual equipment and sound; securing stopwatches and cones; collecting and numbering old AED pads, and many other tasks. This ensured that each professional staff had some responsibility with the success and efficiency of the training.
- Train each professional staff member in the steps involved in CPR, what and when to advise, and review the CPR checklist so they feel confident in coaching and grading the students performance. Two staff meetings were dedicated to this training, and I was available for review and practice upon request
- Final dry run through from beginning to end on the Friday before the event. This provided staff with a greater level of confidence as well as ironing out details and answering lingering questions
How : to make this the best training for our students
- Prizes awarded throughout the training to those students demonstrating exceptional skills and effort – books, gift cards, scantrons, school supplies, t shirts, candy bars etc
- BBQ following training with games and time to socialize for those students who did not have to work following training. Professional staff filled in for them so that they had an opportunity to eat and socialize for a few minutes
- T shirts provided to each student who participated in the training who took the time to complete an evaluation form on site
How : to complete in 4 hours
- 120 employees, 20 of which are lifeguards
- Lifeguards worked in a separate area in groups of 4
- Other students were divided into 10 teams of 10 people
- 1 pro staff with two teams each
- One group performed CPR, AED skills, the other group observed, provided feedback and prepared their manikin. Staff went from side to side every 2.5-3 minutes
- Each group was required to complete the skill within 2 minutes with 30 second feedback, move to other group
- This took approximately 1 hour to complete
- Practice evacuation training outside while preparing scenarios inside and water break – 45 minutes
- First Aid and CPR Scenarios 1 hour long
- Introduction and short film 25 minutes long
- Debrief, question and answers, evaluation and t- shirt 30-40 minutes
- Open the SRC at noon and BBQ on the pool deck
In summary, our students resoundingly enjoyed this training! (Check out the evaluation at the end of this article). They were very receptive to learning and trying something new. The professional staff really made this a success by “buying in” and selling the idea to all their students. It was extremely helpful to have the full support of the director and to have the director in attendance and participating the day of the event. I had students approach me after the event admitting that they thought this was going to be a boring waste of time. After participating they expressed that it was the best training they had ever attended. This made all of our efforts and hard work worth it! Now, starting in late November I get asked “what are we going to do for wRECkage” or what do you have planned for us this year? Our students actually look forward to this training every year. Make it fun, make it exciting and make it challenging – and all of your learning outcomes will be achieved.
Each year we change training just a bit to keep it interesting and exciting for the returning and veteran students. On the second annual wRECkage weekend, I asked the public safety personnel to provide shooter-in-place exercises. They came with training weapons and we put gunshot sounds throughout the building. Our students learned how to run, hide and as a last resort, fight and other skills that could save theirs and others lives. This was in addition to the CPR and first aid skills that we practice, always under duress.
If you would like help organizing or planning this type of event, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I promise you, it will be worth all of your teams’ efforts to include this type of training annually.
To view the Wreckage Weekend Evaluation:
To view the ‘Shooter in Place’ drill – download video: