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Friday, May 29, 2015

Public Safety Training: “Are We Training or Testing?”

Excelsior Fire District TSO observing extrication training
It seems straightforward. Are we training or testing? That question needs to be answered before every public safety training session. And if the answer is “testing,” the instructor and the Training Safety Officer (TSO) need to assess if they believe that the class has been trained to the point that they can safely be tested.

Too often we have seen where a training session drifted “off script” or turned into a testing session—and some of the officers and firefighters were in over their heads. When this happens, there is a very high risk for injury.

I don’t mean to overstate the obvious, but public safety work is dangerous, and mastery of the public safety skill set is vital to both the public’s safety and the responders’ safety. Going into burning structures, taking violent people into custody, and extricating and caring for the injured on highways is high risk—and both training and testing are integral to the mastery of these unique skill sets. Most responders do not naturally have these skills, and for many the learning curve is steep but attainable.

Shakopee Police firearms instructor
coaching and instructing
It is common for training sessions to involve a mixture of training and testing—and with that comes the need for the instructor, TSO, role players, and class to know exactly when they are training and when they are testing. They must know when they are coaching vs. observing/evaluating, and always know when the actions need to be stopped or corrected immediately.

The TSO program continues to improve as the training safety officers develop a better understanding of how these injuries occur and how best to utilize the control that exists in the training setting. Make the “training or testing” discussion part of your next training planning.

Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) AWARD

The League’s TSO program was recently selected as the first-place winner in the Outstanding Achievement for the Intergovernmental Risk Pool Program category.

Bles Dones, manager of membership at PRIMA, said that the TSO Program “shows excellence, relevance, and a display of a results-oriented program, keys to a successful organization’s risk management program, and one that can benefit the public sector risk management profession.”

Congratulations to all of you who have helped to develop this program!


                                      Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next: More on Training Safety—“Call Them Coaches”

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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