The management of major incidents, anything from plane crashes to the search for a missing child, can now be recreated and experienced after a simulation suite was installed by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
The training suite is one of very few in UK universities to mirror the most advanced systems used by police forces and other emergency services.
Developed by the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies and known as Hydra/Minerva, the training simulator recreates the sights, sounds, radio messages and telephone calls of crisis situations.
Including hardware and software the university has invested £360,000 in the facility which incorporates a control centre, a major incident conference room together with additional rooms for student teams to develop and direct incident strategy, tactics and operations.
Emergency scenarios could range from 20 minutes to several days and between one and 30 students can use the facility at any given time.
Students from the School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences following policing-related and other emergency services courses will be the major users of the new facility, although it has clear applications for students studying programmes as diverse as psychology and business.
The suite was opened by Lancashire Constabulary’s Chief Constable Steve Finnigan.
He said: “This immersive learning suite will allow students to experience different command scenarios, delivered virtually, using state-of-the-art technology, by recreating live critical incidents.
“I believe that the opportunities provided by UCLan’s investment in this suite will take our collaborative work to another level.”
UCLan’s David Mallaby, principal lecturer and academic lead for policing, is a former police chief superintendent with a career in the force spanning thirty years.
He said: “Major emergencies such as plane and train crashes are typically complex, initially chaotic and often challenging to manage.
“These incidents require a team-based approach in which the activities and efforts of those officers involved are effectively co-ordinated and properly directed.
“The investment we have made in this state-of-the-art system will bring critical incident scenarios to life for our students, encouraging them to think strategically, plan tactics and deliver successful outcomes. “It’s a safe but challenging training setting where good practice can be identified and shared but crucially it’s a place where mistakes have no operational consequences.”
Professor Jonathan Crego, director of the Hydra Foundation, added: “The new suite at UCLan is a fabulous Hydra Simulation centre and the most sophisticated university installation in the country.”