Train as You Fight!
Practice with a Real Device, Not with a Toy!
Simulators are a good tool to increase the realism in a training event and to practice operational techniques. Although the investment in this equipment is for real devices with more capability. Today’s devices — such as ChemProX — have a built-in training mode for state-of-art learning and training which will not increase the financial and logistical burden. I want to share my experience from over twenty years of training, using, and learning support devices and systems, so you know how training simulation has developed.
CBRN Simulators VS Training Mode
First, let’s dig deeper into the big picture of simulation and learning. Simulators are a piece of equipment that is designed to represent real conditions. Another definition is a person, thing, or machine simulating certain environmental or other conditions for the purpose of training or experimentation. When we focus on the training definition which states that it is the process of learning the skills that are needed to do or have a particular job or activity. When we add the mode for learning, we can talk about the way of operating, learning, and behaving in the process of gaining needed skills. So, these are two conceptual processes and approaches to the differences between simulators (tool, equipment, system) and training mode (way of learning).
External device simulators are a good tool for supporting training and to simulate a CBRN incident scenario. These are better than nothing, but why have separate gadgets for training and one for real action? Simulators add extra cost for the devices annual use and increase life-cycle cost calculations. These are also out of normal purchase allocated money. Not forgetting the maintenance and upgrading chain-of-production-subcontracting.
Simulators also increase the logistics burden. There will be more devices with various accessories, batteries, cables, and extra single use consumables, and specific user interface devices etc. External CBRN simulator systems also have their own specific radio/communication frequencies which may not be allowed to be used in all places or organizations. There are also some simulator systems which need to use external cloud-services to operate. External software is almost always unique to the individual programs and that’s why a computer is needed. Causing more apps, and devices that you need to keep updated.
CBRN simulators provide more options to train and for users to become familiar with the device. Although more tools and programs also need more time to learn how to use them. There is also a high probability that simulators operate in a different way than the real devices do. For practice the trainer needs not only prepare and check the real device but also prepare, recharge, check and test the simulator systems and programs. Still, it is better to use simulators to simulate scenarios than using, for instance, single chemical droplets or sniffing from bottles to try and create an imagination situation.
CBRN Training Mode: All-in-one-hand
Training mode, like previous defined, is a way of learning and a part of daily operations. Built-in training mode is always part of the actual device and you do not need any external, expensive, and time-consuming purchase process. When there are no extra devices and systems, the logistical requirements are the same as the real device. One device from one manufacturer also makes it easy to update and acquire spare parts if needed.
Built-in features also do not need external systems to set up and prepare. All that is needed is the training and simulation features like multi-use software that is built into every unit that can be used as a master if needed. The trainer can control all devices even from a normal mobile phone without any apps or cloud services. When the “training mode simulator” is the same device as the real device, it uses the same communication and radio frequencies, there is no need to make separate frequency checks for a training event.
Use time for training and practicing. With the built-in training mode, you can save resources, time, and money for real exercises. Develop with use of the device, practice the actions, and technique and tactics as a single user but also on the team level. With training mode, you do not need to exercise only small droplets of chemical agents (vs. expensive real live agents’ trainings). With training mode practice and training on your own soil and in your actual “game field”. Train and practice, so you can be ready to test your team’s skill in exercises, and if needed in real incidents.
Built-in Training Mode for an “Augmented Reality” in CBRN Training
External simulators cost more, mostly because the market size. We can’t deny the value that these tools provide for the users. Although do you want to invest the same money for a few devices and supporting equipment to train with, or would you rather spend the same money and get a few more actual devices that have a built-in training mode?
Devices with built-in training mode allow users to practice and train on their own soil and even in the actual “playing field”. Normally it is extremely difficult to implement a large-scale incident scenario. But with a built-in training mode it is easy and safe to frame by using safe BLE- chemical sources*. Remember, that if needed during an exercise to use chemicals, there is no need to change tools for operators, just change the detection mode.