For many airport security supervisors and emergency response managers finding new and innovative scenarios to test and evaluate the effectiveness of their airport security or contingency plans can be a tedious and seemingly daunting task, to say the least.
One solution can be found in borrowing the fundamental strategies known as SOQA – (Simulator Operations Quality Assurance) a form of flight data monitoring and analysis for improving safety, mitigating risk and enhancing operational efficiency,
The emerging concept of SQDA involves leveraging data from a simulator event, much as a flight data recorder captures information for and aircraft in flight. The data can then be analyzed as with FDR data to identify latent unsafe indicators and root causes to address risk mitigation and other operational priorities, and to adapt fleet training curricula. ¹
In applying the fundamentals of Evidence Based Training to the security and emergency response environment, trainers and evaluators can easily develop clear parameters for new and innovative scenario exercises, tests and policy evaluations.
Drawing from Real life:
In the same manner that use of the FFS can reveal detailed source data in a number of parameters, a close examination of security incident reports, previous scenario test results and critiques of past full scale EEX (Emergency Exercise Scenarios) conducted at the airport can give insight into areas of weaknesses among both personnel and existing airport contingency policies.
Applying high-tech principals to low-tech techniques, administrators and line managers, with the investment of a little time, can identify both categories of deficiencies as well as develop various scenarios to test for specific areas of improvement.
Let us begin with a simple step by step example for airport security.
First, gather the pertinent data. Collect incident reports, accident reports, airside badge violations, safety write-ups and individual practicum tests or evaluation reports over the past 12 months.
Second, develop an identification matrix. The Matrix should compare airport security policy and procedure with the nature of the reports. Ensure to specifically identify the qualities or areas where greater training and skill enhancement is needed. This might be in the areas of interpersonal communication, job knowledge, challenge techniques, close quarter tactics or task execution.
Third, identify existing training modules which reinforce the needed skill or skills among your staff. Your HR department or AVSEC training officer or Quality Assurance Program monitor can often assist in locating relevant topics and module selections. In some cases you may have to resort to outside agencies to acquire specific modules, in others, in-house training and previous employee programs may contain the specific skill sets necessary.
Fourth, based on the respective training module’s evaluative instrument, select the key traits, information or skill practicum necessary to successfully complete the module. These skills will translate to the basis for your ‘new’ evaluative instruments. (These can be in the form of written tests for security personnel, practical scenario exercises where security officers must perform a task – such as bag search, person search or vehicle examination, or they may require the officer to make a judgment call during a role play situation.
Finally, develop both varying and appropriate staff evaluative instruments. For example, if the area of weakness is knowledge of policy and airport procedures – test personnel using written instruments with an appropriate answer key. If testing is not successful, reteach, and then test again, until the proficiency level is acceptable. If the deficiency requires adopting physical procedures such as search techniques or close quarter tactics, have the officer demonstrate for a qualified observer (staff supervisor) their ability to perform in a role-play, or no notice situation. In essence, re-teaching and re-evaluating are a continuous process if behavior or skills need enhancement or improvement.
Regardless of the method used, ensure to document both the testing and evaluative instruments in detail. This will prove helpful in developing future scenarios and innovative test instruments. Documentation also serves as proof of continuous professional development.
Evidence Based Training (EBT) sourcing need not be limited to activities and incidents occurring at one particular airport. Reports and evaluations shared regionally or within a State can provide valuable material in scenario development. Though each airport is unique, and general aviation differs from commercial operations, there are common challenges such as unruly passengers, infectious diseases, airside security breaches and unattended bags or cargo with crossover with no regard for aerodrome size, location or operations.
Whether airport security, emergency response or safety oriented, planners should not limit themselves to local reports and incident documentation. CBT (Computer Based Training) simulation programs and videos of real world incidents – such as found in the “Air Emergency “ television series 2/3 can also be a valuable source of ‘additional training’ ideas, scenarios and applications.
As training evolves from the purely academic to the practical, drawing more and more from lessons learned in the field, and relying on practicum evaluation rather than written examinations, trainers, administrators and planners are finding new and innovative ways to apply hard data to practical training techniques.
1. Evidence Based Training Comes of Age, Capt Lou Nemeth, ICAO Training Report, Vol. 2 No. 1, June/July 2012
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