Simulation Training - Training -

Simulation Training

Get off on the right foot



Gary T. Klugiewicz Gary Monreal | From the November/December 2005 Issue Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In this article, we'll review 10 key steps for creating safe and realistic, scenario-based, decision-making simulations to help instructors get off on the right foot. We'll talk about developing a nuts-and-bolts template for scenario-based simulation training programs.

This article will not discuss the importance of simulation. If an instructor doesn't know simulation training needs to be the centerpiece of all training programs, they have some real problems.

Step 1: Needs Assessment

Instructors must begin the development of a simulation-training program with a needs assessment. On what do their officers need to spend their simulation training time? Although shootouts with heavily armed bank robbers need to be addressed, officers must train for all use-of-force levels. In fact, in a recent series of statewide instructor updates conducted in Wisconsin, Bob Willis, a nationally recognized trainer, found the most glaring need of the 1,800 instructors was communication skills. Train for the needs of your officers not just the high-risk, fun stuff.

Step 2: Levels of Simulation

All too often instructors go too fast, too soon in their simulation training. You can't teach officers new skills and then, with little or no practice, expect them to do well in high-level, high-stress, decision-making scenarios. After introducing the new skills, instructors should use seven levels of simulation to prepare their officers for high-level, decision-making simulations. These levels include:

  1. Shadow training;
  2. Prop training;
  3. Partner training;
  4. Dynamic movement training;
  5. Relative positioning training;
  6. Environmental-factors training; and
  7. High-level simulations.

For more information about the seven levels of simulations, visit and watch the video under the Reference Material pull-down menu.

Step 3: Creating the Simulation Format

Next, an instructor must work from a written simulation worksheet to provide the necessary documentation of what officers were trained to do. Besides the individual officer-evaluation form, these simulation worksheets should consist of a title page listing scenario type, objectives, overview and equipment; a page for student instructions; a page for role player instructions; and a page with a diagram of the scenario. These worksheets are essential for documenting training and can help you defend against failure-to-train allegations.

For examples of both blank and completed simulation worksheets, and a blank evaluation form, please review these forms at /klughandouts.html under the Reference Material pull-down menu.

Step 4: Designing the Simulation

After the needs assessment, the instructor will begin designing the simulation, which consists of:

  1. Developing the simulation;
  2. Choreographing the simulation;
  3. Rehearsing the simulation;
  4. Implementing the simulation;
  5. Debriefing the simulation; and
  6. Evaluating the simulation.

Carefully design, choreograph and rehearse your simulations, or they can lead to training injuries, the adoption of poor tactics and liability exposure.

Step 5: Training & Controlling Demonstrators

The most important component of successful, meaningful simulation training remains the development of well-trained, fully controlled demonstrators. Instructors must assign these demonstrators roles that are specific, limited and carefully supervised to prevent a deviation-from-role that can lead to poor training and injuries. Tell demonstrators specifically and in writing what they can do and, equally important, what they can't do. Remember: If you use officers for role players (and most of us do), they love to win. With adrenalin dumping, it's hard for an untrained, unsupervised role player to remember that the ultimate goal of the demonstrator is eventually to lose (i.e., be controlled by the officer in the simulation). Yes, demonstrators need to be challenging and realistic, but if the trainee performs effective tactics, the demonstrator should give realistic responses and allow the technique to succeed.

Step 6: Providing the Training

Once the simulation is designed and practiced with demonstrators who understand their roles, the instructor can begin the simulation training. Follow this checklist:

  1. Conduct an initial wellness check;
  2. Explain the training safety rules;
  3. Conduct a physical warm-up;
  4. Explain the simulation drill's format;
  5. Conduct the simulation drill;
  6. Conduct a debriefing session; and
  7. Conduct a current wellness check.

Finally, instructors should make their training a positive learning experience. Properly explain what you expect of the student, conduct a fair, winnable scenario and properly debrief the student.

Step 7: Equipment & Safety Procedures

Although simulation training helps prepare our officers to survive and win encounters on the street, it must be conducted safely there are no acceptable casualties in police work, especially in police training. Wellness checks, training safety rules and safety procedures make this happen.

Simulation safety begins with the development of appropriate safety procedures, the development and use of safety officers, and the enforcement of stringent safety procedures. Many equipment manufacturers have developed safety procedures to use in conjunction with their equipment. Instructors should always follow these guidelines to prevent unnecessary liability.

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