NARU makes strong links across the pond

Two staff members from the National Ambulance Resilience Unit (NARU) Education Centre spent time with the USA Centre for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Alabama recently during two separate visits designed to improve knowledge and swap ideas on best practice.

Part of the purpose of the visits was to compare and exchange ideas so that both organisations can continue pushing the quality and realism of their training. The CDP and NARU are very much focused with the same level of commitment and pursuit of the very best training available. The visits were a continuation of contact made originally in 2011 which enabled an initial comparison of techniques and content to be made, allowing both organisations to push forward with the development of new and exciting ideas and techniques.

In March 2014 NARU Instructor Colin Pinnington visited the CDP as part of an Instructor Exchange Programme, while NARU Head of Education David Bull QAM, spent some of his annual leave in April meeting with CDP colleagues.

The centre is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which in turn comes under the Department of Homeland Security. The CDP is the Federal Government’s all hazard training facility delivering world class CBRN and Command training to all departments of Federal Government focusing on Emergency Management, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Service, Governmental Administrative, Hazardous Materials, Healthcare, Law Enforcement, Public Health, Public Safety Communications, and Public Works.

During Colin’s exchange visit he had the opportunity to see some of the high quality training being delivered by both SME’s and experienced trainers. Says Colin: “The wide range of student backgrounds and training needs means that they have to provide realistic scenarios in reality-suspending venues. These include a shopping street scene complete with detailed shop interiors, a tube train with station and a fully operational 80 bed hospital complete with a fully functional emergency department and 50+ high end Human Patient Simulators which are of the same quality that we at use at the NARU Education Centre.”

The CDP also has a facility called Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological Training Facility (COBRATF) where they offer responders the opportunity to conduct realistic exercises in a truly toxic environment. This highly specialised facility enables responders to train in an environment which genuinely contains highly toxic agents.

Though the CDP delivers to a very wide range of target audiences, each course is carefully and expertly delivered based around their student group so that the pertinent area of learning is developed and focused on.

Says Colin: “This is a benefit of the NARU model in that we only have to focus on one target audience and we have a much smaller scale of operation in the UK which does enable us to maintain one national standard amongst Ambulance services and HART units. Perhaps one constraint of this model is that we operate different governance between Emergency Services where the CDP deliver courses to all areas from the EMS and Police teams at the scene, through to the HAZMAT operatives from Fire & Rescue services right back to the command cell at the receiving hospitals.”

During his visit Colin gave a presentation to 100 CDP students and Instructors, giving an insight into Emergency Preparedness in the UK and how both our models, though developed independently, show great similarities in the end result of high quality repeatable training.

Later this year a member of the Federal staff from the CDP will be coming to the NARU Education Centre at the Defence CBRN Centre to spend some time with the faculty and students, reciprocating the learning exchange from the first part of the exchange.

Says Colin “These type of opportunities are few and far between and we here at the NARU Education Centre will be making the most of our colleague’s visit, capitalising upon their wealth of knowledge and their perspective from a fellow CBRN/Hazmat centre of training excellence.”

Following Colin’s visit, NARU Head of Education David Bull QAM spent some of his annual leave in the USA meeting with colleagues in Arlington County Fire and Rescue Service who have implemented robust training processes and procedures for responding to incidents involving firearms, focussing on the clinical response.

David then took time to visit senior staff at the Centre for Domestic Preparedness to discuss the exchange of information between education centres. David said, “It’s by taking time to conduct such visits that we not only benchmark our own training methodology but learn how others, facing similar challenges, have found ways to overcome them. The learning and sharing of best practice is vital to ensure that we are always striving to improve the products that we deliver and we very much look forward to welcoming colleagues from the USA to visit our facilities and to continuing the learning with Arlington County Fire and Rescue Service and the Centre for Domestic Preparedness so that candidates on NARU courses can benefit from the very best training methods and concepts.”

For more information contact dave.bull@wmas.nhs.uk.