SOP Testing

Whether you are in a small department, or a large one the following two scenarios can be a helpful training suggestion. It also works if you are just able to affect the company or station house you are with.

I have approached this two different ways and either one has merit if you use the results in a positive and not a critical manner.

At your next drill, create a 25 question exam based upon your department’s SOPs. Give the exam without any warning, and be prepared to correct it somehow that same time. Give the troops a break and correct the test.

When everyone has come back, review the results as best you can. You will find that different members will have different results. They may be all over the place, they may be different by station or group or shift, and many will not even resemble what the SOP actually says.

The second way to do this is to pick and SOP that covers a particular topic such as first alarm response or something of the sort. Forward lay, reverse lay or some measurable practical topic. Gather the companies and just give the most basic simple command such as a simulated non emergency response to a target hazard and allow the drill to continue to whatever level you choose. When all companies return and come back in service, gather them up, and measure the performance at the drill directly to what the SOP says should have happened.

Again you will find that the results sometimes do not even resemble what they are supposed to do.

You can bet that what was expressed in writing or what was done at the drill is probably what will be done at the actual emergency scene.

As the training person you need to decide if the SOP needs to be modified (and sometimes they do) or if there needs to be reinforced training on the SOPs. If the incident commander actually believes that a certain set of procedures is going to be followed and in fact they are not serious safety issues will arise.

There is an old military adage that says, Train like you fight, and fight like you train.

Make sure that is what is going on in your department today, you might be surprised.

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013