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Monday, June 2, 2014

Mat Room Improvements

The mat room at the Lino Lakes Police Department
features addtional safety measures like plywood
mounted behind the mats on the walls.
Training injuries—particularly during use of force or defensive tactics training—continues to be a leading area for police officer injuries both in Minnesota and nationally. Recently, two law enforcement training sites have updated and improved the safety of the mat rooms they use for this type of training. 

The Lino Lakes Police Department had been using a multi-purpose room for their training. It was time consuming to set up the room for training, as mats needed be brought in and positioned. Officer Steve Wagner said, “It’s tough to cover all the safety issues that multi-function rooms present, like covering up sharp edges and door handles.” The Lino Lakes Police Department’s new room is permanently set up, and their public works department added plywood to the walls and bracing in the corners to make the room safe and sturdy before the mats were hung up.

A video camera is mounted out of the way and monitors
the mat training room at the Lino Lakes PD.
The room also has a video camera mounted up and out of the way. Officer Wagner said, “The camera can be useful in reviewing the performance of the trainers and trainees if needed. We haven’t had any injuries, but if there is one—we can see what happened and hopefully prevent it from happening again. It also tends to keep the training atmosphere focused and professional knowing that it is being recorded. It keeps scenario training more ‘on script’ too.”  

The SCALE (Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency) Regional Public Safety Training Facility in Scott County also made an improvement to their mat room. Facility Director Mike Briese noted that “space was the biggest issue,” as the padded area of the mat room was too small for some of the use of force training and so created safety issues. The old mats were no longer adequate or sized properly for the room.

The remodeled mat room at the SCALE Training Facility.
The SCALE facility improved their mat room by making the room larger and by adding new and better padding to the floor and walls. This improved the safety of the training room and allows the instructors more options as to how they can use the room. “Our agencies are now able to create properly sized groups in a station training setting which is more conducive to learning,” said Briese.

Scenario-based training is here to stay because it works. The challenge for the instructors is to figure out how to make that training safe without watering down the content. Good-quality and properly sized mats, covering all of the hazards in the training room, and mounting a video camera are good risk management.


                                                    Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…The Mortenson 100% Project. What Would it Look Like for Public Safety?

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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