Wheat Ridge (CO) Fire Department Develops FLAME-SIM Virtual Fireground Training

by Steven Gillespie
Training Officer, Wheat Ridge (CO) Fire Department

The Wheat Ridge (CO) Fire Department has developed a virtual fireground environment using FLAME-SIM software. The intent of this training is to develop the cognitive and pragmatic decision making process of their members, thus preventing injuries, fatalities, or the significant loss of property while operating under stressful, emergent, and hostile conditions.

The Wheat Ridge (CO) Fire Department utilizes FLAME-SIM as the basis for officer and tactical development because research, such as the 2003 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report1, Judgment and Decision Making Under Stress: An Overview for Emergency Managers, highlights the importance of the aforementioned training objectives by reporting that:

“… stress is one of the factors that decision makers must contend with in most life-or-death situations. They suggest that a better understanding of individual judgment and decision making activities whilst under stress would yield a better understanding of how people reach the choices they make in emergencies.”

FLAME-SIM offers our members the opportunity to train in a wide array of stressful situations, whereby, each individual can develop the systems and processes necessary to make safer, more efficient, and proficient decisions.

Since November of 2009, our members have completed 41 simulation-training scenarios. The impact of using simulation training has been immediate. Simulation training has increased our organizations ability to operate in a safer, more efficient, and proficient manner than prior to purchasing FLAME-SIM and developing a simulation-based officer and tactical development program.

Of our members who have participated in the simulation-training program, 75% rated the comfort level of their individual knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA), in the context of decision-making and stress management, as somewhat comfortable. Following the completion of a simulation training program (4 days), those same members “agree” or “strongly agree” that they now possess the KSA to operate in a safer, more efficient, and proficient manner.

Given the fiscal constraints placed upon our organization, the difficulties in conducting training directly related to stress management, decision-making, and tactical operations, little if any training models will provide the aforementioned results. In short, the Wheat Ridge (CO) Fire Department has gotten what we paid for. We are safer and better prepared as a result!

1. Kowalski-Trakofler, K. M., Vaught, C., & Scharf, T. (2003). Judgment and decision making under stress: An overview for emergency managers. International Journal of Emergency Management, 1(3), 278-289. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/pubs/pdfs/jadmu.pdf

More info: www.flame-sim.com


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