Emergency Services personnel receive extensive training in their respective academy. In the initial phase of training, the subject is mainly academic. Law enforcement personnel, for one, cover topics such as state law, drug recognition, hazardous materials’ recognition, and more through hours of classroom instruction. The remainder of the training cycle is hands-on training. In a portion of the hands-on training, computers play a major role. For instance, for law enforcement, there are ‘shoot or don’t shoot’ scenarios: These are played out on a video game-like system, in which the officer stands on a padded surface that detects every movement (ducking, kneeling, shifting side-to-side). While standing on the surface, the officer has a weapon ‘holstered’ and is provided scenarios in which he or she must decide whether to shoot a subject. During this training, the officers every action or inaction is monitored up to and including verbal commands given to the ‘subject’. This type of computer training has proven vital over the years in terms of evaluating prospective law enforcement officials.
In the world of Emergency Services, certification is imperative. Included in the definition of Emergency Services personnel are police, fire, and EMS. In most states, this personnel is required to maintain certification through a points system. Personnel earn points through course completion; annual certification in different subjects and annual re-certifications. In addition to the points earned for required academic subjects, there are points awarded for similar training courses. These ‘extra’ subjects are often considered an acceptable substitution for required subjects.
In the past fifteen years, due to budget constraints and other factors, the annual academic subject is being rearranged to accommodate computer training. This has proven cost-effective to state and local agencies: budgets aren’t stretched thin, leaving funds available for special projects and such.
There are many examples of computer training received by Emergency Services personnel. Of the many important classes, for example, are Hazardous Material recognition courses. The benefit of completing a course such as this is twofold: the materials can be covered easily during a shift, and instant results are generated. The fact that a computer training course can be completed during a shift makes it cost-effective for a small department in terms of travel expenses, wear and tear on a vehicle, and time lost to training.
For policemen desiring to obtain training on a subject that would normally require their attendance at a far off training conference, this is a boon. Computer training courses covering topics such as drug recognition are relatively easy to find. These courses are generally recognized by the respective law enforcement training division of the given state. While policemen may be discouraged from taking such a course during duty hours, it is entirely possible to complete such a course during off-duty hours. Again, this type of computer training course benefits not only the officer but the Department.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of computer training for Emergency Services personnel is the one aspect of their lives that become the most neglected: family time.