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Transforming Training During the Pandemic and Beyond - Findings from our Expert Panel Discussions

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The Challenge of Transformational Training

“But we’ve always done it that way…” surely one of the most dangerous phrases in terms of training.

Whilst the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality does have some credence, it can be very damaging to have a fixed, inflexible vision which never looks to the future to see what we can do to improve training, and ultimately, patient outcomes.

If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that the world can change in the blink of an eye. Whilst the detrimental effect of Covid across the world cannot be understated, we should acknowledge that some benefits have arisen from the crisis, including our ability to rapidly adapt and accept new approaches to working.   

At Ruth Lee Ltd, we are certainly seeing an accelerating transformation process and we are especially keen to work with experts in rescue and medical sectors to develop the very best tools for effective training.

You may know us for our range of rescue training manikins – for the past quarter of a century we have been working with professionals who save lives to develop manikins for a variety of simulated training exercises. From technical rescue and CPR, to water rescue and manual handling.

Increasingly, during the pandemic, we have been approached by teams in many sectors who need to continue with essential training whilst still maintaining safe distancing. Nowhere has this been more prevalent than the healthcare sector – demand for manikins has grown exponentially and we are proud to provide a solution which allows trainees to minimise person-to-person contact.

But we are always looking to the future and we’re committed to meeting the needs of your future training.

With this in mind, we recently hosted several panel discussions with leading experts from the healthcare, aviation, maritime and fire and rescue sectors. These were aimed at guiding us over the next 5 years to make sure that we are giving teams the tools they need to train in the most innovative and challenging ways, which will ultimately lead to improved skills.


The Future of Rescue Training

One thing we have always known is that for training to be effective, it needs to be realistic. Gone are the days of leaving a “this car is on fire” sign and expecting first responders to act in a certain way. It is unrealistic and not likely to yield any kind of realistic response. Therefore, in a genuine emergency, how can we expect these same professionals to behave positively, with confidence and skill?

Likewise, how can we expect a paramedic to perform lifesaving airway management if they are under pressure from different environmental factors that they have never experienced? It’s one thing to learn how to cannulate a patient in a nice warm classroom, and quite another to put that paramedic under a partially collapsed building in a USAR drill!

During our panel discussions “The Future of Rescue Training”, we discussed many aspects of training and how this has changed over the past 10 years, before looking forward to the next 10 and predicting what changes we could realistically expect across all sectors. Here are just some of our findings:


Accountability and avoiding Litigation

Grenfell certainly sent shockwaves through the whole emergency services community. Not only was it a tragedy of epic proportions, but it opened our colleagues up to a very public enquiry where every aspect of the operation was dissected in minute detail – all in the name of accountability and liability.

It is very sad to think that rescuers can be put in this position. But it has focused our minds on the importance of training to ensure that accountability is paramount through the proof of acquisition of diverse skills, at all levels.

Of the experts we spoke to, all agreed that incident command and disaster management training would be a huge focus moving forwards.

Working on a High Risk, Low-Frequency model of training, this means that training needs to be increasingly dynamic, with opportunity for adaptation and interaction at all stages – allowing commanders to intensely challenge their teams whilst also stretching their own comfort zones in terms of operational preparedness. 

Certainly, a growing fear of litigation within the healthcare sector has impacted our growth as a business. On a weekly basis the trade press reports fines in health and social care settings which could have been avoided, or at least minimised by producing evidence of a robust and considered manual handling training programme.


Improving Cross-Sector Collaboration

Everyone agreed that best-practise and collaborative working is the ideal. It makes sense that we all learn from one another as many of the medical and specialist rescue skills cross over into different sectors. Increasingly, rescue teams are expected to perform medical skills to a much higher standard and vice versa, paramedics are expected to carry out lifesaving skills in a technical rescue setting such as confined space, whilst maintaining the safety of themselves, their colleagues and their patients.

Therefore, it makes sense, where possible to make use of the expertise in different sectors and undertaking joint training and even policy writing.

Within the emergency services at least, merging of services and pooling of resources is becoming more prevalent, which can be a positive when training budget restraints mean that purchasing new and increasingly more technologically advanced equipment is hampered. 


Realism – addressing all demographics

The arrival of high-fidelity manikins meant that it’s not just healthcare learners that increasingly expect more and more sophisticated manikins and ones which cover all demographics from gender and race, to age and even BMI! It is important that training in all sectors considers that people come in all shapes and sizes and equipment must reflect this so that learners are well prepared to deal with all eventualities.


Training in a Virtual World

Some sectors are clearly better at adopting a ‘virtual’ world that others! In particular, the fire service and maritime sector appear to have embraced this approach which allows them to greatly increase the outcomes of their incident command training. It also addresses logistical issues, letting teams from all over the country, or in some instances, all around the world, take part in the same training scenarios for a joined-up learning experience.

Of course, there is often no substitute for hands-on practical training, but advancements in virtual reality and augmented reality mean that complex simulations which would previously have been extremely expensive to set up and take lots of time to prepare can be replayed over and over, whilst adapting to the responses of the learner. This clearly opens many learning opportunities, especially during the pandemic when meeting face-to-face can be problematic.


Clearly, the future of training is an evolving picture – with more realism, technology and accountability key priorities for all. At Ruth Lee, we are proud to be part of that picture.


The above is just a snapshot of what was discussed during our panel discussions and we would like to extend our thanks to the following for the participation and expert views.

Simon Woodward - Ex Head of Emergency Services & Airside Security (CFO)  - Manchester Airport Group 

David Halliwell - Director - Lifecast Body Simulation Ltd

Paul O'Sullivan - Managing Director - R3 Safety and Rescue

Ian Batchelor – Watch Manager Incident Command Learning and Development - Leicester Fire & Rescue Service 

Ché Scott - Station Manager Core Skills and Tech Rescue/Army Liaison Officer – Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service

Matthew Martyn -Senior Lecturer in Sports Science (School of Health and Society) - University of Salford.

Tony Emsley – Training and Industrial Manager - Outreach Rescue

Mark Jaenicke – Training and Performance Director - Maritime Skills Academy/Viking Maritime Group

Alex McEnaney – Advanced Clinical Practitioner (Warrington NHS) and Clinical Governance Lead - Trauma & Resuscitation Ltd

Liz Baugh – Lead Medical Consultant - Red Square Medical



If you need advice about transforming your training, call on 01490 413 282 and to view our full range of manikins, click HERE

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