By Tim Lodder - When an incident occurs on board a vessel, either at sea or in port, the operational command structure of the vessel changes. Officers have primary and secondary responsibilities, depending on the muster list or the assigned emergency response positions.
To change from an operational to an emergency response role requires experience, and means getting engaged in a well-oiled machine which will only work if this has been thoroughly taught and well-exercised.
In January 2016 XVR Simulation partnered with Transas in order to combine their training simulators. Combining the simulators of Transas and XVR allows users not only to manage vessels in ports, harbours and coastal areas, but also provides users with the option to act in the event of an incident. This blog explores the possibilities and advantages of combining the simulators of XVR Simulation and Transas.
Just a normal day on a regular ship…
On a regular day, a ship’s crew is navigating through an area involving heavy traffic. Procedures, knowledge, skills and attitude are required to guarantee a safe passage through. Maintaining the proper knowledge, skills and attitude to follow procedures is trained with the Transas navigational simulators. The same goes for the technical team on board who ensure a proper operational excellence to provide the same safe passage. The nautical and technical teams are connected together to execute operational safety.
…turns into an unusual day
Then, when everything seems to go according to plan, an explosion in the engine room occurs. A fire breaks out. There are several victims. The explosion also caused a breech in the ship’s hull, the ship is flooding and people are in danger of drowning.
These types of incidents can happen anytime, anywhere and require the same team as above mentioned to deal with the situation. They will have to split up and take command of a major and possibly escalating situation. In order to do this, the crew needs other knowledge, skills and procedures. In chaotic situations like this, it is of vital importance that everyone onboard is sufficiently prepared and trained.
Current training falls short
Once every five years, seafarers learn in required safety training courses (STCW) what to do with the minimal SOLAS-required equipment on board. However, these training courses do not provide the participant with ship or type specific courses. Furthermore, monthly SOLAS drills on board do not provide users with sufficient training to handle major incidents.
Expanding current training modules
XVR On Scene is able to simulate any type of incident on board or ashore in order to brief, train, exercise and assess emergency response roles in any generic or specific environment and prepare them to act appropriately to the highest level possible. XVR provides users, as an addition to the Transas bridge-, engine room- and port operations simulators, with the opportunity to train and educate changes in the operational command structures, communications and be ready at any time to manage an on board emergency and decrease operational risks.
Other simulator combinations
Besides the combination of the above mentioned operational simulators and XVR On Scene, the collaboration between XVR and Transas provides for more training options. With the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) users are able to train the organization of an emergency response. It also enables the incident manager and vessel traffic manager to train communications, amongst themselves but also with port operational management and safety regions.
Furthermore, Transas is aiming to create an integrated solution for all their training and simulation modules, mirroring the Apple model, with all their separate operating units communicating with each other. Within this Transas Harmonized Eco System of Integrated Solutions (THESIS), XVR provides a significant addition by allowing Transas to also integrate safety training into their ecosystem.
The combination of Transas and XVR is also particularly interesting for Fleet Operational Centres. Not only will they be able to train and educate operational excellence but also how to manage an incident if it occurs and thus saving ships, assets and last but not least human lives.
About the Transas – XVR Simulation partnership
In January 2016 XVR Simulation partnered with Transas to expand their maritime training capabilities. By working closely together, the two market leaders aimed to extend their offers to both existing and future customers of both parties. XVR Simulation is now able to combine their incident response simulation platform with the training simulators that Transas offers, namely the Vessel Traffic Management Solutions (VTMS), the NT Pro5000 navigational simulator and the Tech Sim technical simulator.
Tim Lodder was a ship’s officer at Holland America Line, and responsible for navigation, ship’s safety and security. After his seagoing career he worked for Falck Safety Services, introducing the hybrid training concept in the global maritime sector. Since March 2015 he is Director of Maritime Development at XVR Simulation. For more information, please contact Tim Lodder at email@example.com or visit xvrsim.com or transas.com.
By Dr Katherine Lamb - What can XVR be used for? How should you use it? For me, XVR provides a realistic, detailed and reactive visual stimulus, which you can use to deliver high quality incident command and crisis decision making training. In this blog post, I will explain my vision of what incident command training should be about, and how XVR can support this.
Traditionally, incident command training used ‘table-top’ exercises which were delivered utilising paper inject feeds or annotated photographs. But this two dimensional information can be interpreted differently by each student due to the lack of clarity or detail around the information.
Visual Incident Information
By providing them with an fully interactive environment all the students can visualise the information in exactly the same way, as well as considering additional or external factors such as adjacent building proximity, gradient of the land, wind direction or the weather.
I provide incident command training and assessments utilising the both XVR and the Effective Command methodology.
Decision Making training
I developed the Effective Command model together with Dr David Launder of the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service as a methodology that focuses on developing decision making behaviours, through the use of dilemma based training scenarios. The model is supported by a series of web-based assessment tools and apps, and has been integrated as a fully compatible training methodology in conjunction with XVR. We have implemented the Effective Command Model and XVR into many international projects and Fire Services including:
- Several UK Fire Services
- Estonian Academy of Security Sciences (SISEKAITSEAKADEEMIA) - Tallinn, Estonia
- Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters - Seoul, Korea
- IGNIS (International Wildfire Simulation Project)
- DRIVER (an EU-supported programme for innovation in Crisis Management and European Resilience)
The importance of thinking
I believe that thinking commanders come from thinking firefighters. For example, if you train firefighters to think during fire behaviour training, they will be able to read the fire. They will understand what they’re looking at and they’ll make a decision about what firefighting tactics to apply. They won’t just open the door and deal with the fire from a fixed procedural perspective, they will read and understand it.
Developing Command Competence
Individuals need to be given the opportunity to change the specific competences of knowledge, experience and skill, acquired from training or operational exposure, into command competence. Let them take that two dimensional information they’ve learnt and transpose it into a 3D model in their heads. Let them take that knowledge, experience and skill, and landmark it, in such a way they remember it and importantly how it all fits together. That is an effective training methodology.
The complementary value of XVR
XVR provides a cost effective way of delivering this kind of learning experience as it gives incident command trainers the opportunity to create a whole array of scenarios and train in a safe learning environment. We all learn best by making mistakes and figuring out what we should do different next time, simulation provides this type of environment.
The scenarios created should always present a dilemma, as it will test the ability of the student to resolve an incident rather than by just applying an organisational procedure by rote. Give them a scenario that requires them to make time-critical decisions. A scenario that allows you as the assessor or training officer to explore the decision making rationale of the student.
Testing the quality of decision making
XVR provides a reactive training environment helps them cement their learning. If they make appropriate decisions, there must be appropriate outcomes at the end. If a BA crew is given a good quality brief and appropriately equipped with hose and sufficient water, then the fire should go out. Conversely, if a poor brief is given and the fire continues to develop, then the commander needs to be given the opportunity to review their decisions and make tactical changes to the plan, based on the dynamically changing visual cues.
By training people in this way, your students develop good situational awareness and are able to confidently lead their teams in a clear and cohesive way. By developing decision making skills in your commanders you are equipping them to progress to the status of an ’All Hazards Commander’ a commander who has the confidence and competence to deal with the unexpected!
Dr Katherine Lamb is a respected authority on the Incident Command training and assessment. She worked as a research scientist before joining the Fire Service in 2004. She specialises in Incident Command and crisis decision making and published several scientific, peer-reviewed articles on the origin and application of competence assessment methodologies within the Fire Service environment. In 2015 and in collaboration with Dr David Launder from South Australian Fire Service, she has established EffectiveCommand.org. EffectiveCommand, is a charitable organization which has been set up to bring together best practices in Incident Command development and assessment.
By John Damen – From plane crashes to terrorist threats, Airport Operations departments have to deal with a variety of complex, often interconnected safety and security risks. In this blog post, I will explain how virtual reality training can help Airport Operations to improve their incident preparedness.
While minor incidents may occur on a daily basis at airports, the biggest threats to continuity of operations and passenger safety come from major – but less frequent – incidents such as large fires, plane crashes and terrorist threats.
Precisely because these major incidents occur less frequently in real life, Airport Operations staff get less opportunity to gain practical experience in dealing with these incidents. In order to keep up with compliance and maintain adequate incident preparedness Airport Operations needs a comprehensive structural approach to training, in order to help their staff to:
- Know the proper emergency procedures;
- Know their way around the airfield and airport facilities and systems;
- Develop the ability to assess complex situations and make effective decisions under pressure.
Building skills with virtual reality
XVR Simulation has built an extensive track record of virtual reality training at major airports and with airport operators, such as Lisbon, Gatwick, Dubai International Airports, AFS Schiphol and ISAVIA Iceland. Working with these organisations, XVR Simulation has proven itself in training applications such as:
- Airport familiarization;
- Runway incursion training;
- Aircraft handling exercises;
- Fuelling safety;
- Crash passenger management & casualty care.
Specific benefits of virtual reality training for Airport Operations
What makes virtual reality training particularly useful for Airport Operations, is its ability to:
- Reconstruct past incidents to create learning experience for the future;
- Create realistic scenarios of safety risks that are very sector-specific;
- Develop situational awareness;
- Develop recognised (primed) decision making, allowing incident responders to act effectively and decisively during emergencies.
The results we have achieved so far, the very positive responses from the trainees and the amount of interest in the market, strengthen my conviction that virtual reality is the future for training safety procedures, incident response and crisis management in Airport Operations.
Are you active in this sector and would you like to know more about the benefits of virtual reality for your training needs? Feel free to contact Martijn Boosman at Boosman@xvrsim.com.
By Thomas Van’t Wout – Our customers use XVR not just for building simulation scenarios, but also for creating pictures and videos to support their training and education methods. In this blog post, I would like to show some inspiring examples at French safety region SDIS 69 in Lyon.
Videos and pictures are especially effective for demonstrating highly specific operational procedures. Think of extraordinary emergencies like sending reinforcements to a fire in a double bore tunnel, but also standard procedures like protecting the incident area in a road traffic accident.
Benefits of videos and pictures as a training tool:
- Everything is clearer when explained in a video than explained in a scheme;
- Videos can be also easily used to make the students think about a situation;
- Videos increase the quality and the clarity of educational documents;
- They are easy to use and easy to share, you can put them on an USB-stick or send them by internet using a file sharing website like WeTransfer. You don’t need specific software, but can use any computer easily.
XVR videos and pictures in practice: SDIS 69
The SDIS 69 safety region in Lyon incorporates XVR generated photos and videos in numerous ways into their training and education programme:
1) Explaining a complex tunnel procedure
Incident response in tunnels requires elaborate and specific procedures, which can be tricky to explain properly. By creating an instruction video in XVR, SDIS 69 managed to make the procedures much clearer for fire fighters who are rarely confronted with a tunnel incident.
See here for a presentation about the tunnel procedure:
2) Illustrations for an instruction card about flammable liquids procedures
Incidents involving flammable liquids are tricky and costly to replicate. SDIS 69 created a step-by-step instruction card on how to deal with flammable liquids, featuring highly realistic pictures that were generated in XVR.
3) PowerPoint presentation for classroom education
For an exercise where students are asked to write down their actions in an incident scenario, SDIS 69 created a video in XVR and embedded it in a PowerPoint presentation. The instructor only needs a standard laptop with Microsoft Office and a beamer to run the training.
4) Awareness video for paramedics about aggression
Unfortunately, paramedics are increasingly confronted with aggressive bystanders at incident locations. To create awareness about this problem and start a discussion about ways to tackle this issue, SDIS 69 created a video in XVR which is distributed among paramedic stations.
The possibilities are endless
The examples described above represent just a fraction of how you can use XVR generated videos and pictures. You can open a world of possibilities by combining XVR with YouTube or other online hosting platforms. For instance, it is already possible to create interactive scenarios featuring XVR videos which are hosted on YouTube.
Would you like to know more about the possibilities of producing photos and videos in XVR? Feel free to contact me.
Thomas van ‘t Wout is consultant at XVR Simulation
By Ferry Pak – One of our key challenges is to ensure that users around the world can adapt the XVR platform to their local conditions and demands. In this blog post, I will explain how we tackle this challenge.
Environments, vehicles, uniforms, but also procedures and of course language differ from country to country and from region to region. In multiple ways, we ensure that our globally used XVR simulation platform is fully adapted – and adaptable – to local demands. At XVR Simulation, this is what we call Multi Local.
Our Multi-Local approach encompasses the following aspects:
Local aspect 1: Processes and procedures
Besides environments and vehicles, procedures also vary from country to country. The triggers, events and task logic in XVR enable you to let a training scenario play out according to your own local procedures & standards.
Local aspect 2: Language
Currently, the XVR platform is available in 12 different languages. It is also possible to have the software interface and menus translated into any desired language.
Local aspect 3: Content
Content, i.e. scenarios, environments and objects, is the key local aspect in XVR. Think of the recognisability of buildings and emergency vehicles, but also details like the colour of the grass.
To help our users achieve this, the XVR Product Management team makes an ongoing effort to identify and categorise which local content is available in various markets and what missing content needs to be created.
We enable our users to create local content in the following ways:
B. Use existing data
C. Have content built by XVR Simulation or third parties
Additionally, a growing number of our users hire local companies or freelancers to build XVR environments for them. A recent example is the Dutch Police Academy, which temporarily hired people to create 3D avatars of Dutch police officers. We actively support our users in engaging third parties and we are working on new possibilities to open the XVR platform to facilitate this.
Local aspect 4: Support
XVR Simulation has partners in different time zones, to offer users primary support and refer to XVR Simulation HQ in the Netherlands for extensive support if necessary. We also have an XVR Simulation company office in Singapore and an XVR Service Centre for Australia and New Zealand, located in Sydney. You can find additional information about our Service & Support here.
Would you like to know more about the possibilities to adapt XVR to your local demands and conditions? Feel free to contact me.
Ferry Pak is Product Manager at XVR Simulation.
By Tim Lodder – An increasing number of companies and organisations in the maritime & offshore sector embrace virtual reality as a training tool. And they do this for good reasons, as I will explain in this blog post.
Maritime: tightening of international law
Historically, the maritime business is a rather traditional sector, characterized by small margins and a strong focus on cost savings. Incidents such as the sinking of the Titanic (1912) and the Torry Canyon (1967), and the fire on the Scandinavian Star (1990) sparked an awareness among national governments that maritime safety needed to be regulated by international law. The accident with the Costa Concordia in 2012 enhanced this realisation.
Offshore: growing safety awareness
In its relatively short history, the offshore sector has seen several major incidents. Despite the large margins and innovative culture, safety has long been neglected in this sector. But after the disasters on the Ekofisk Bravo Platform (1977), the oil production platform Piper Alpha (1988) and Deepwater Horizon (2010) we saw the rise of an industry-wide awareness that safety is not a luxury, but a key aspect of corporate risk management. This causes a need to train people in safety protocols, procedures, communication and crisis management.
This explains why both maritime and offshore have a growing demand for efficient, cost-effective training solutions. For multiple reasons, virtual reality is a particularly attractive solution.
Benefits of virtual reality
Virtual reality makes it easy to reconstruct past incidents to create learning experience for the future. It also enables you to create realistic scenarios of safety risks that are very sector-specific. This way virtual reality enables to lay a solid foundation for safety and situational awareness on vessels and platforms.
STCW training concept
A good example of the application of virtual reality is the hybrid training solution for international shipping that XVR Simulation developed in partnership with Falck Safety Services and Saphire Complete Training Concepts.
We developed this training concept in response to the recent tightening of international law for safety training in shipping (STCW). This law offers room for the introduction of new training methods like virtual reality and web-based learning.
The training concept is built from eighteen 40 foot shipping containers that provide a realistic ship environment, including the main risk areas: engine room, laundry, galley en crew recreation area. The facility is also equipped with a comprehensive simulation centre, shaped as a ship’s bridge and engine control room.
Within this facility, Falck Safety Services provides a combination of realistic training and simulation training through virtual reality. This way, trainees assist each other to achieve competence in the various disciplines covered by the training. Experienced instructors ensure that this occurs within the required conditions and control the scenario from a central observation room.
Fewer training days, same quality
A key benefit of this hybrid training solution is the time saving: a full STCW repeater course can be reduced from 7 days of traditional classroom training to 4-5 days of interactive, scenario based training. This anticipates to the strong demand in the industry to minimize training costs without compromising the quality of the product.
Several major companies, including Boskalis – the Netherlands’ largest maritime service provider – and Holland America Line (HAL) have already used this training solution. HAL is considering extending this training to all its nautical and technical officers. Another cruise operator, Carnival UK Group from Southampton (UK) has already decided to use this training solution for all its 850 nautical and technical officers.
Naturally, we have plenty of ambitions to develop this training concept further. For instance we would like to include a water mist system in the training facility, to add to the realistic experience. We also have plans to expand this training concept with a specific Crisis Management module.
The results we have achieved so far, the very positive responses from the trainees and the amount of interest in the market, strengthen my conviction that virtual reality is the future for training safety procedures, incident response and crisis management in the maritime & offshore sector.
Are you active in this sector and would you like to know more about the benefits of virtual reality for your training needs? Feel free to contact me.
Tim Lodder was ship’s officer at Holland America Line, and responsible for navigation, ship’s safety and security. After his seagoing career he worked for Falck Safety Services, introducing the hybrid training concept in the global maritime sector. Since March 2015 he is Business Development Manager Maritime & Offshore at XVR Simulation.
By Edwin van de Snepscheut - It is a challenge that every instructor faces: how can you make sure that your XVR scenario will accomplish your educational goals? The solution lies in following the correct steps. In this post, I will discuss these steps further.
By utilising years of experience in supporting exercises worldwide, we have developed the following step by step approach to help instructors set up an effective exercise in XVR:
Step 1: First assessment
In this first step you determine the general outline of your training scenario, based on a number of factors: for instance, is the exercise part of your regular training schedule? Or is there another reason to conduct the exercise?
You also look at recent incidents in which your organisation was involved. What kind of incidents happened? Who were involved and in what role? Which points to improve on emerged during the evaluation?
By answering these questions, you get a general outline of your scenario; the environment you will use, the scale of, and the kind of incident.
Step 2: Analyzing and describing tasks
In this step you zoom in on the different roles and tasks in your scenario. Again, you use a number of questions:
· Which roles exist in the scenario you want to train with?
· Which tasks and subtasks are designated to the persons involved?
· What knowledge and skills do they have? As individuals and as a team?
Step 3: Define lesson goals
A crucial step is to define which procedures, knowledge and competencies you are going to train. Determine your priorities by assessing which people are involved in which roles, as well as practical matters such as the available time.
Naturally, you should make your lesson goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).
Step 4: Designing the exercise
During the previous steps, you defined the scenario and environment in which you are going to train, your target group, your lesson goals and your practical conditions. This gives you the framework for designing your exercise.
Again, it is crucial to proceed in the correct order. Do not start building in XVR straight away, but work out the exercise in a script first. In this script, you describe how the scenario develops as well as the role play between the students and the instructor.
So only after finishing the script – halfway through step 4 - should you start building in XVR!
Another tip: rehearse the scenario with your fellow instructors, to find out if everything works as intended.
Step 5: Conduct the exercise
How to organise and conduct an exercise is a story in itself. I will discuss this topic further in an upcoming blog post.
One more tip: even if your time is limited, always give your students a few minutes to get familiar with the software and the controls – regardless if they are XVR novices or practice with XVR on a regular basis. This way you remove insecurities about using the joystick or gamepad, allowing your students to concentrate fully on the exercise.
Edwin van de Snepscheut is Senior Consultant at XVR Simulation.
By Steven van Campen – More and more of our users are choosing to create a fixed simulation centre. It is a step that can greatly benefit your organisation, provided that you do it well. We are happy to help you with this. In this blog post, I will explain our method of operation.
But the number one reason we hear from our users, is: ‘We are tired of dragging cables and computers around’. This makes sense. Having to set up your flexible simulation set for every training is not just a hassle. It also increases the risk of errors and technical problems which impact the quality of your training.
Benefits of a fixed simulation centre
Besides a welcome end to the dragging around of equipment, a fixed simulation centre has other important benefits:
- Immersion – A fixed training centre allows an optimal set-up that provides candidates with a maximal sensation of immersion in the simulation.
- Comfort – In a fixed simulation centre, you can ensure sufficient ergonomics, lighting and ventilation, in compliance with general assessment guidelines.
- Control for the instructors – Instructors can operate more effectively in a space of their own, which they can set-up according to their needs.
- Simplicity and usability – No more dragging around of cables and PCs, but a solution that is always ready to go.
- Durability – Having your equipment in one place also means less wear and tear and less risk of technical issues
- Flexibility – By analyzing your needs and setting up your centre in a smart way, you can create a highly flexible training space which is suitable for multiple aspects of your curriculum as well as adapting to new training methods.
By applying our experience with users worldwide, we have developed a methodology for the design and implementation of simulation centres. This methodology offers you a step-by-step guideline to create a simulation centre that supports all your current and future training needs. We can also help you apply globally used best practices in usability and ergonomics.
Designing a simulation centre: here’s how it works
Our methodology for developing a simulation centre consists of the following steps:
1. Initial contact
In an exploratory discussion, our account manager defines a broad outline of your needs and of the problem you wish to solve by switching to a fixed simulation centre.
2. Identify needs and conditions
We then proceed to identify your needs in further detail, by asking a number of specific questions: why do you want a simulation centre? What does your current curriculum look like? What does your future curriculum look like? What are the links with your other processes? And, importantly: what is not possible or not allowed?
3. References and best practices
We compare your package of demands with other simulation centres around the world, and identify which best practices from those centres can be applied in your situation.
4. Selecting the space
An important step. We not only review the space itself and any of its additional functions, but also the location of the facility. Is it easily accessible? Is it an active station, so that participants can remain on-call during training?
Based on the designated space and the proposed training methods, we draw a map that provides you with a visual impression of how the simulation centre will look. Naturally, you get the opportunity to give feedback, so we can adapt the design.
6. Refined lay-out
We use your feedback to make a more detailed design, featuring 3D-sketches and input from the facility management and/or an interior designer. We also compile a so-called part list – with all the required technical equipment – for the ICT-provider, and create a diagram of the cable network.
7. The proposal
Based on the design, the part list and the network diagram, we write a commercial proposal. This proposal contains four parts: hardware, software, services, and agreements with third parties.
When you agree with the proposal, we proceed – together with any additional service providers – to order all the components, and subsequently build and install the simulation centre, and train your instructors.
Final thoughts: a fixed simulation centre is not necessarily more expensive
Even though many of our users start out with a basic flexible simulation set, a fixed simulation centre is not by definition more costly. Sometimes existing equipment can be re-used in the simulation centre. And the reduced wear and tear from moving equipment around not only limits the risk of malfunctions, in time it also saves repair and replacement costs. Moreover, Desktop PCs and related components are on balance cheaper than the laptops that are required for a flexible set-up.
Would you like to know which solution for a fixed simulation centre we can offer within your budget and possibilities? Feel free to contact me.
Steven van Campen is Manager Innovation Projects for XVR Simulation and operates as a consultant for our clients worldwide during the design and implementation of simulation centres.