Call for more joint training for emergency workers

Exercise Forward Defensive.

Blue light emergency workers should take part in more joint training, according to a new report.

A survey by Skills for Justice, in partnership with the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP), has highlighted the lack of joint training opportunities are preventing the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services from working together as effectively as possible.

And while 79 percent of the 1923 emergency service employees questioned said their organisation was interoperable with other emergency services in their area, 95 percent said a lack of joint training was a barrier to effective interoperability.

As well as taking place infrequently, joint training opportunities are unevenly distributed between the various levels of command within the emergency services. Strategic leads are much more likely to receive joint training with 61 percent of these ‘gold commanders’ undertaking joint training at least once a year, compared to just 50 percent of ‘silver’ tactical workers and 22 percent of ‘bronze’ operational colleagues.

Staff working for the ambulance service are more likely to get joint training opportunities with 17 percent taking part every few months compared to nine percent of fire and rescue and seven percent of police staff.

Some 56 percent of those surveyed also feel that learning from complex and major incidents is not shared between other agencies and services and 95 percent of respondents thought that a move to a single joint decision making model would support interoperability.

The report’s authors are now recommending nationally-developed and funded joint training opportunities should be provided for responders, particularly for those working in ‘bronze’ operational roles. They also recommend standardising joint decision making and intelligence gathering models, as well as national funding for equipment procurement.

The report also recommends that a national interactive collaboration tool could be developed. This would be aimed at supporting the development of collaborative learning programmes to ensure that the needs of the three emergency services are met.

Skills for Justice CEO Alan Woods said, “It’s clear from our continuous work with the police and fire and rescue services, and knowledge of the ambulance service, that personnel are trained extensively to do their jobs. We understand the time and resource constraints that joint training and exercising bring but we know that this education is most beneficial when it provides personal contact with responders from other services and includes practical elements that allow assumptions and equipment to be tested.”

The research was conducted as part of Skills for Justice’s ongoing work to support JESIP, which has been established to bring about changes at an operational level that lead to the emergency services working together more effectively at major incidents.

The project has received co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through the Employer Investment Fund.

For more information visit the Skills for Justice website.