By Mark Wiggett
As the Training Manager at ICM I often get asked how do you make first aid training transferable, so that when people leave the training room, they not only remember vital information and skills, but they have the confidence to put what they learnt into practice in real life.
I have 37 years training experience with the NHS and public sector, and during that time I have developed key training techniques and teaching methods that are set to a really high standard, to ensure transferable learning. It is not easy to teach something that is so unpredictable – when it comes to first aid; the reality of being in an emergency situation is very different to being in a training room.
There are not many industries where you can say that your style of training is a life or death matter, but when it comes to what we do, that is absolutely the truth, and we take that very seriously. We have a duty of care to the people we are training, to ensure they come away with essential knowledge, skills and confidence whether they are 4 years old learning basics, or advanced training to be a paramedic.
My three-step approach to training is:
Experience & Knowledge:
Although someone may be competent as a trainer, having an in-depth understanding of the subject matter is vital. The management team at ICM have collectively well over 100 years in the medical profession – working for the NHS as senior paramedics and nurses. This means our training is highly practical, relatable, and more importantly it is authentic. The skills we impart, we live and breathe each and every day – we really have seen it all. As an example, the lady who runs our Flat Stan first aid courses for 4-11 year olds, used to be a schoolteacher, so she understands better than anyone how children learn, which leads to better engagement. Everyone who comes to one of our training courses says that our experience and passion for healthcare shines through, and this builds trust and respect. At ICM, although we have a wealth of knowledge, we never stop learning, and training the trainers is something we feel very strongly about. Learning is a two-way-street and we learn a great deal from the people we train.
When it comes to first aid training, the one size fits all approach simply does not work. It is my job to assess the attendees and understand how they learn, and also why they want to learn. The subject matter, skills and core material will be the same for each course; however, how it is presented must be flexible and tailored to the people in the room. I can adapt my teaching style for different needs and what approach will make the biggest impact. My motto for training is “let them find their own way”. Often training will be delivered in a top down style, meaning you get told how to do something. We believe to get the best results and make learning stick, it is vital to let people get to the answer and discover knowledge and skills for themselves. If you figure something out for yourself, you are more likely to remember it and be confident in your ability. My role is to act as a guide, I always feel very proud when I see someone doing something they never thought they could do.
Relatable to Real Life:
This is essential when it comes to first aid, as the reality of being in an emergency situation is often stressful and unpredictable. So, how can you convey that in a training course? The majority of our courses are taught in smaller groups, which allows us to get everyone involved and to practice and act out many different situations. Our focus is on practical real life scenarios – everyone gets involved in complex role-play and simulated emergencies. Plus we make sure everyone gets to use the manikins, clinical equipment and deliver medical procedures. Repetition is also important, so we don’t just do things once and move on, we do a number of times in a variety of ways, so it becomes a natural process. I think it’s important to challenge the “comfort zone” so I like to quickly change scenarios, and throw questions at participants so that they have to think on their feet and make important decisions in real time. We draw on our own experiences, to include real life anecdotes so that they can learn how to remain calm under pressure, think quickly and be confident in their ability.