HEAT: natural disasters

Despite evidence to the contrary, we continue to overlook the likeliness of such catastrophic events occurring within our lifetime, never mind within our homes and on our borders. But within the current global climate, it is now more important than ever to be prepared for natural disasters through relevant training that builds resilience in responders.

Critical training

Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) has, for the last two decades, been the standard for preparing people to do their work under difficult conditions. It has been a critical part of training for those involved in international development work and those under the ‘humanitarian’ umbrella who could face deployment within a few hours to any country in the world. And as the range and complexity of international responses to disasters increases, the reality is that many first time responders have little or no experience of different cultures or environments.

Civilian responders, such as fire-fighters and nurses, civil servants and journalists, are often expected to operate in difficult conditions. However, many are from backgrounds that don’t include experience of the complexities of international disaster response.

Sean Moore, National Co-ordinator, UK International Search and Rescue explains:

“Hostile environment training aims to raise individual awareness, team awareness and managerial awareness of the different types of risk and threat that environments pose to us when we actually deploy.”

Organisations like UK ISAR play an essential role in disaster relief and have a constant duty to be ready to provide relief efforts on the ground. But how can they do so effectively when every situation and every country is different, especially when a timely response is critical?

A robust tool

With the changing face of technology, implementing an immersive and interactive learning management system such as Resilience into your organisations’ core training, can help support learning, refresh basic principles and ensure teams have a grounding in all key areas of required knowledge within a short amount of time.
This includes key areas such as: personal security, crisis and conflict management, cultural awareness, security in the field, first aid training, captivity survival, and stress management. All being fundamental topics where reputable hostile environment awareness training is concerned.

The platform's unique immersive e-learning approach helps raise awareness and build resilience for challenging environments through Near-Life™ video simulations as a form of ‘gamification’. In other words ‘play that helps us to do the serious things better’ via interactive online training. The Near-Life™ learning approach allows responders to make choices and see the consequences of their actions.

In real life situations, responders are often tasked with making a final and correct decision in a time-pressured environment. Interactive video simulations, or role-play training online, can help reduce this risk by providing realistic insight into how situations could unfold. Moreover, they allow the learner to make an incorrect attempt and then try again, providing the ability to fail safely. An uncertain or unprepared decision in real-life circumstances could be detrimental to not only yourself and your team but also, the affected communities.

Steve Cook, International Media Safety Advisor, outlines that:

“People initially think of hostile environments as Syria, Northern Iraq, places of conflict, but that’s not necessarily the case, it’s often determined by your sex, ethnic background and the environment you are in.”

Cost-effective solution

The world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place with natural disasters on the increase. This, at a time when government budgets and international donors are more financially stretched, which often means less funding for training.

Resilience Academy allows its users to quickly and comprehensively learn at a distance using interactive video training and provides a cost-effective supplement, or even alternative, to more expensive face-to-face training. Depending on need, it can be used as part of a blended learning approach, to provide a foundation for those who don’t have the time or ability to attend a full HEAT course in person, or as a refresher on some core principles.