Title: Sharing of experiences: a method to improve usefulness of emergency exercises

Authors: Harriet Lonka, Jean-Luc Wybo

Addresses: Gaia Group Ltd., Vartiotie 5, 45100 Kouvola, Finland. ' Ecole des Mines de Paris, P.O. Box 207, 06904 Sophia-Antipolis, France

Abstract: This study presents an exercise of a major train accident organised in SE Finland in the spring of 2002. A specific method was used to collect and share experiences among the participants. This method, originally developed for the analysis of real accidents and crisis, demonstrates a strong potential to improve the overall benefits of this kind of exercise. The special feature of this exercise was the cooperation between different authorities and voluntary groups. The authorities represented rescue services, police, healthcare, mental crisis care and social care. The voluntary groups included both first aid and mental crisis care groups. The success of an exercise depends on two main factors: motivation of people and similarity with real conditions. The challenge in learning lessons from an exercise is to collect and share efficiently facts, decisions and individual perceptions in order to reach two objectives: evaluation of the exercise by itself and evaluation of successes and failures of technology, people and organisation that would have a significant effect in real situations.

Keywords: emergency exercises; organisational learning; rescue services; emergency management; Finland; train accident; cooperation; police services; healthcare services; mental crisis care services; social care services; first aid services; voluntary groups; public authorities; motivation; evaluation; simulation; disaster management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2005.007359

International Journal of Emergency Management, 2005 Vol.2 No.3, pp.189 - 202

Published online: 11 Jul 2005 *

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