The New Year is often the time that SAR teams or individuals plan their training schedules for the following twelve months. This short guide is designed to help you effectively plan your SAR training schedule, whatever your role, or the branch of SAR you are in.
In order to prepare for the process of planning your training schedule it is important to understand the purpose of training. One method for understanding this is to use John Adair's model of task, team and individual. Any training session should address at least one of these three areas and your overall training plan should contain a suitable mix of the three.
Task orientated training is skills based training and refresher training. These should focus on the skills you use regularly during SAR incidents, with a smattering of essential skills that are used less-frequently.
Team orientated training works on team formation and team working skills. These, like any skills, need to be practised regularly. As we all know, teams that work together regularly tend to anticipate each other's needs and actions and work better together to achieve their tasks. They are also proven to react quicker to unexpected or fast moving incidents.
Individual orientated training is about refreshing or expanding an individual's knowledge and/or skills. This might be during group training, or going on individual specialist training courses.
Obviously many training sessions will address two or more parts of the model, and good trainers will ensure that they do try to get the most out of any training session. However, a good training plan will ensure that each individual's needs are met, whilst improving the team's ability to work together to achieve the tasks the team will have to / may have to deal with.
The starting point for planning any training schedule then is to fully evaluate where you are now and where you are aiming to get to: whether as a team or an individual. Whatever name you give this process, training needs analysis, self-evaluation etc. you start with having a clear idea of what you hope to achieve in the following year:
Are you or your team looking to do new activities? What knowledge/skills will you need to undertake these?
What activities do you currently do? What is the current level of skills, knowledge and understanding? What updating needs to be done?
The training plan, then, grows from this evaluation; taking the next steps required to move the individual, team or task training forward.
Never be afraid, however, to regularly train the basics. Scientists are still trying to understand the brain and the effect of learning upon it but the consensus is that regularly using the neural pathways during training strengthens them, growing that region of the brain and ensuring those skills come naturally to the individual even under the most stressful incidents.
In fact, some of the latest experiments suggest that even after the skill becomes unconscious for the individual regular training makes the skill or task easier for the brain, freeing up more mental capacity for other skills / tasks.