Conducting All-Hazards Simulation Training Online with SimsUshare

Learn how to conduct all-hazards simulation training with SimsUshare.


Good afternoon, I’m Jonathan Kaye. I’m the president of SimsUshare, and today’s webinar is going to be on how to conduct remote simulation training with SimsUshare CTC. I’m going cover four basic points. 

First, what simple steps you can do to assemble your training processes and your materials. Second, how do you run SimsUshare in a remote environment. I’m going to demonstrate that. When I say remote environment, I mean where you have your instructor, your evaluators, and your participants all at different locations but you’re all online. Third, I’m going to show how you can handle your exercise communication, and then fourth I’m going to show communication during exercise debriefing.

So the first step is obviously to ask yourself what topics are you going to teach? Now they don’t have to really be different at all from your existing classroom training exercise plans, whether it’s company level training, company officer development. We’re going to go over a couple of ideas. Obviously with any kind of training, you want to identify your training objectives very clearly, and you want to use objective critiques after each scenario or exercises that you’re running.

Let’s talk about a couple ideas. Some simple ideas in officer development: you could focus on practicing communication and decision skills around, let’s say, initial operations––lot of fertile stuff in there. From a company level training, maybe you can be very basic. Just do some walkthroughs, a slideshow for size ups, and basic review of responsibilities for the different crews on possible incidents. Now, for executive officers, you may take that to a higher level where you might be looking at SOPs, SOG verification, and review. 

So I like initial operations because there’s so many interesting things to practice there and really refine, and of course it’s the foundation of all good and bad operations. So whether it’s the initial radio report, incident size-up, strategic shifts, follow-up reports, command transfers––you can really start almost anywhere. C.A.N. reports, assigning units using the task location objectives––anything that might happen in the initial operations is a good area to do some exercises around your local buildings. 

Now, where you might start is, well, in terms of processes we’ve put together what we call a Using Simulations to Enhance Training handbook, it’s kind of a simulation training handbook. And I’m going to just show you what that looks like to give you some ideas about the types of trainings you might use, ideas of benefits, and even steps on how to implement that training. If you go to simsushare.com and you go to our Help page, you’re going to find a lot of useful information there. The purple button here says “Developing a Sim Training Program” and that’s what I would be clicking on to get to the simulation training handbook. 

So the focus of this, it’s divided into two basic sections. One is describing using simulation based training in the fire service and typical trainings where it might fit. The second is about how you might start to develop your own simulation training plan. So in using simulation based training in the fire service. We focus not coincidentally on the NIOSH 5 here, really saying here are five areas where there are the causes of line-of-duty deaths on the fireground. So a lot of these can be part of the lessons that you have in your discussions in what has made scenarios go bad or how you’re going to improve that in your own training. Lack of risk assessment, lack of incident command, fireground accountability, and so on. 

Now, in that first a section we now delve into using simulations for company level training. You can see some ideas there. Using it for officer development and later on promotionals, SOGs, continuing education. But I want to focus on here using simulations for officer development because over here we describe a little example procedure starting with occupancy status, a foundation obviously for everyone, and kind of a little process here even just using here single photos where “present a photo, officer identifies the occupancy status,” so we kind of give you a step-by-step here that you might want to try. Now, as you get into more of a scenario you might start to look at here is a process for a strategy identification selection. So you might be using a simulation there where now it’s not just a simple single view but a whole scenario in which people can even walk around as they identify the strategy, they select the strategy. 

And then as you get a little further and more involved scenarios––developing an action plan, doing initial reporting. So we definitely suggest checking out this free guide, giving us feedback as well. We want to make it helpful to people who are trying to put in place a curriculum they will need something to get up and running quickly, maybe they have some of their own material. What’s critical here though, again, we talked about having training objectives and having specific if in terms of critiques. 

If you go down into Appendix A, we have here example scoring sheets. So these are things that you may print out and use as part of your evaluation during exercises. You can also adjust them to your own department use and your SOPs. So Appendix A has these example scoring sheets. You’ll see both for a company officer, then a battalion chief, including as well a mayday section. 

And then in Appendix C is something we call a debrief master and we say you can put it on to a whiteboard, print it out during each scenario. These are just the essential elements that are good in pretty much every structural firefighting that you can use in evaluating. As you go through, the evaluator can kind of check them off. These can also be the basis for your discussion in your debrief. You can say, how well do we do? Did we have rit? How was our ventilation? How well was the command location? So this is a really useful kind of checklist in your debriefing as well as it can be used by your crews to learn the processes. So definitely suggest checking out our handbook and giving us feedback. 

Let’s get back into the presentation. So now, okay, you’ve got an idea of the process, you have sort of an idea what you want to do. How are you going to put stuff together? This is where we have some free simulations. We certainly suggest you go out and use your own pictures, maybe even some videos to review, but make simulations. Go and take a couple pictures or find some from your first. Should be simple enough to create whether single view or multi-view. But we also have about 25 free simulations on simsushare.com. I’m going to show you where that is. So if we go over to simsushare.com and I scroll down to the right hand side, you’ll see here it says “Free Simulations” and I click on Free Simulations and now we have a one-page QuickStart guide on how you actually download the simulations. But here you can see we have starter sims, multi-position sims, so we have about six to eight in each category. Take a look at what these are and you’ll be able to see how to actually bring them and use them, and then you can also adapt them. So that should hopefully get you started. If you don’t see what you’d like, certainly let us know. So let’s now get back into this. 

Now this is a tip from Frank Lipski of Modern Fire Instructor. He was suggesting as well, since SimsUshare is kind of like a very basic PowerPoint, there’s no reason that your slides have to just have smoke and fire. You could put information content, whether it’s something to teach people or whether it’s a reference guide, maybe an ERG page or something. You can take a snapshot––let’s say you create it in Keynote or PowerPoint––export that slide as a JPEG, and then just stick it into your simulation. So you can use SimsUshare to sequence your slides just like PowerPoint, whether or not that information is presented inside of an exercise that just becomes another location or a slide, and you could just drop people into that location if you want to bring them into that information slide. Or if it’s before the exercise, then you can just use it as a regular presentation. So, good tip there.

So now the main thrust of our presentation––how do you actually run SimsUshare remotely? So you’ve got two roles here. One is the instructor, or it can also be an evaluator. The instructor starts at ctc.simsushare.com. You just need your CTC credentials and you just need an internet browser, any internet browser except for Internet Explorer, so Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera––anything like that and you can run exercises from anywhere. Your participants, we highly recommend installing the free SimsUshare app on Windows or Mac, or running it on iOS or Android, but we also now just introduced recently an internet browser version for participants, and I’m going to show you. So for each of these, you go to the CTC login which will just take you to ctc.simsushare.com. If you’re a participant, we strongly suggest the SimsUshare app, that’s going to give you the best experience, but this browser is something that’s really simple for a participant, it makes it easy as you don’t have any installs. So if you go to that ctc.simsushare.com. You can go here to be an instructor and that’s the instructor login on the left. If you want to use the browser version of our participant, you would click on the right hand side––Participant Login. You don’t need credentials for that. We talked about having an instructor. You can actually login on multiple screens, so let’s say you have an instructor, you have an evaluator, other people who want to see kind of a bird’s eye view who are coordinating the exercises but not part of them. So each of those people can log in again on ctc.simsushare.com as instructors and they’ll get that high-level view, and they don’t have to be in the same location. 

Also what’s critical, for each of the packages, we have a certain number of participants. So let’s say a package like the Starter Package has three concurrent participants. Your instructors and your evaluators are not included in that count. So you can have multiple instructors or evaluators––as many as you’d like for that. Now, as a participant, the SimsUshare app is what we recommend and so that’s available on various platforms. 

So now when you get into SimsUshare CTC, I’m going to show you just in a moment, you have a couple of different options here like simulations––that shows you the simulations that you’ve uploaded to your cloud account or you’ve brought in from our example scenarios, exercises is going to be where you’re running your multi-company exercises, web client is going to be a  participant view if you want to have that also running on the computer where you’re instructing. So use basically simulations if you want to preview what you have in your account, and use exercises if you want to actually run that as the remote control. 

Let’s take a look at this. So if I go over here to ctc.simsushare.com, I’m going to login as this instructor, and here is our CTC dashboard. And as I said, if I want to just look at the simulations, I can just click here and I can go and just double-click on whichever one I want to look at, I get a pop-up window. This is not remote control, this is all just me looking––you might want to give your crew, say “just take a look at 1024 Stockton,” and this is the way you can practice. So they’re not connected to anyone, no one’s controlling them, no one’s seeing what they’re doing. And you can do that toggle fullscreen, that’s kind of the self study simulation. 

But now let’s go over to exercises and start an exercise. To start a multi-company exercise, first have your crews in their respective locations. If they actually have SimsUshare, have them open up SimsUshare, and what you’ll do here is I’ll create an exercise, and I’ll give it a 123 Main Street, and now the code is something that you’re going to use each exercise. It’s a one-time use. So I might say 12345, that’s a little bit basic. There may be other SimsUshare customers who might be using that, so make it a little bit distinctive. You don’t want people dropping in on your exercises on unannounced, so I made it here “Main St” Now what you do is you choose a simulation you want to use to run in your exercise and you hit “Create.” 

Now at this point, people can actually come in. If I actually go over here, as we’ll see, I can go see here now if I’m running an exercise, now I have my code “Main St” so now you tell your people, I’m going to go here. I’m pretending I’m a participant. I go to the menu, I say start multiplayer mode. I now say join CTC server, hit connect, and now the exercise code is going to be “Main St” and I’m going to be Battalion 1. I hit “Join” and if the scenario is already downloaded, it will give you this. It’s saying, do I want to redownload it or keep it? If the scenario’s not downloaded, then it will automatically download it. I’m going to keep the scenario for now here, and notice what happens. When I’m in here, my instructor now is now seeing that Battalion 1 is ready. So I can now go here as well. If I want to go ahead and start the scenario, I can just hit “Start”. And notice what’s happening right now. These are my slides, my locations ABCD. Let me go over to Battalion 1, and now if I hit “left” you see how Batallion 1 is moving around. But the instructor is seeing that unit. 

Now if I have other units coming in, I’m going to go now and have Engine 1 join––you might have them start before you actually start the exercise or maybe you have a responding slide or staging slide so they’re not immediately on scene, whatever you want to do in your simulations, I’m going to hit CTC Server here, I’m going to say my unit name is going to be in Engine 1, I hit “Join,” and now I don’t need to re-download. I could if I wanted. Now you see you have Engine 1 and Battalion 1. 

Now, this can be any number of slides that you have, any number of locations, including our new SimsUshare States mechanism, which makes it super simple to change conditions, but for right now it’s showing simplicity. You see how Engine 1 is moving around, they can move around independently. 

You see now, if I move Engine 1 over, I can individually control them. Now for people who haven’t seen the CTC before, very useful feature. We have here a transcript of everything. So that’s really nice, showing people where people went. You could copy that out for a record. And you also have here on the left hand side there’s a little preview window which is mirrored in the corner, so I can actually go in as instructor or evaluator, I can just see what the actual views or I can actually track different units. On the right hand side view down here is just my own little viewer. Sono one else is seeing that. Another really useful feature here is the ability to communicate. I might say for the instructor, on scene 10 minutes or so. And then when I hit “ok,” you’ll see everyone gets that message. I can also selectively send messages to the different units. 

So this gives you a really basic rundown of the CTC. Let me show you what it looks like with the web client, web client meaning the browser version. you’re going to open up, and this is what you do if you would go to ctc.simsushare.com and go to participant. Again, what I’m going to do here is put my name, I’ll say “Ladder 2,” and my exercise code, same code for everyone––”mainst”, I hit “Create” and now you’ll see in a moment, this is a browser version of it. There’s Ladder 2. So what you might encourage, you’ll see in the browser version, we have the full screen option there, and as I move around I see the same scenario and I’m participating in it just like as I were with the SimsUshare app. And similarly if I were over here, the controller can move that person around. So a lot of stuff here on the CTC. On our help pages we have a lot of material about it. Hopefully it’s giving you a little snapshot of how you might run and exercise. Now, this is just run from the visual perspective. Let’s get back to talk about how you might handle remote communication. 

So, in the CTC I showed you the basic text messaging to participants. That’s obvious how you might text message, report that you found a victim, telling whatever it is, telling whichever unit interior, maybe not everyone. Now, obviously for radio communication, use your portal radios on a training channel. That’s simple. That will handle during the exercise and you can certainly go and switch channels if that’s part of your SOPs based on how the situation evolves. Some departments have some teleconferencing capabilities already. That can be useful if everyone is not in radio communication or they don’t have their radios. And then, of course, just like what we’re using right now, Zoom for video conferencing. You can use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx––a whole variety of tools that can provide the voice conferencing. Or just using some conference call, a conference bridge. You might use some of the video conferencing tools to simulate face-to-face communication. So if you have video cameras on your computers, you might do face-to-face communication and use your video conferencing tool to handle that aspect. 

So this kind of rolls into conducting the exercise debriefing. The mechanics can handle easily again with Zoom, Google Hangouts––you can have that running just like I’m running now Zoom and the CTC, it’s not either-or. So you can have Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, WebEx. Now if you’re on an iPad or an Android, I can’t guarantee but maybe then you’re on a conference call or using your portable radio and you switch over to the video conferencing tool once the exercise is over.

Also what’s useful about Zoom is you can share the instructor or participant screen. So during your debriefing you can say, let’s take a look at this, you can send the units to all the various locations, but you can also show the dashboard and show where all the units are positioning and start asking questions. So this Zoom meeting or the Google Hangouts or the screen sharing essentially just gives you a huge new capability in your debriefing to show the dynamics both from what the user sees and also kind of globally bird’s eye view, what everyone is seeing. For more than 6-8 people we suggest muting microphones, sometimes background noises get in the way. So you can handle that. That’s going to be just something you learn as you start doing more video conferencing and these types of remote sessions. 

Again, the point that’s always worth emphasizing is when you’re doing any kind of training you need to clearly identify your training objectives and use objective critiques after each scenario. So we’ve provided a couple of examples for you. We hope that they’re helpful.

To wrap up, here are a couple of the resources we want to emphasize. First, the SimsUshare Help Page.There’s a lot of good stuff there about how to develop your training program and then mechanically how you operate SimsUshare. We have videos, we have free classes, we have quick start guides. Very useful for operating the CTC, for creating sims. A lot of stuff there. We have free simulation sets, more than two dozen and growing. So please use those, let us know what you’d like to see. 

And of course the last thing most important is contact us. We’re available by phone, we usually set up web meetings if you want to discuss your specific situation. We want to help you, we want to learn about what’s going to be most effective for you. 

Well thank you very much for your attention. I’m going to give a couple more minutes to ask questions but right now I am going to pause the video.

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