walkaboutFirefighters and other blue light emergency workers should take part in more joint training, according to a new report from the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP).

A survey by Skills for Justice in partnership with JESIP has highlighted the lack of joint training opportunities are preventing the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services from working together as effectively as possible.

And while 79% of the 1,923 emergency service employees questioned said their organisation was interoperable with other emergency services in their area, 95% said a lack of joint training was a barrier to effective interoperability.

As well as taking place infrequently, joint training opportunities are unevenly distributed between the various levels of command within the emergency services. Strategic leads are much more likely to receive joint training with 61% of these ‘gold commanders’ undertaking joint training at least once a year, compared to just 50% of ‘silver’ tactical workers and 22% of ‘bronze’ operational colleagues. 

Richard Hannigan, Chief Fire Officer at Humberside Fire and Rescue, said: “This report has confirmed the critical importance of joint training and exercising and will influence the priorities of both JESIP and blue light services. Skills for Justice is uniquely placed to provide support to the JESIP team in helping to bring these recommendations to life. Their extensive experience of working with the police and Fire and Rescue Service, plus their effective cross-sector contacts, have enabled them to engage with all three blue light services to provide a great deal of relevant data.”

Sharing learning from major incidents
Staff working for the ambulance service are more likely to get joint training opportunities with 17% taking part every few months compared to 9% of fire and rescue and 7% of police staff.

Some 56% of those surveyed also feel that learning from complex and major incidents is not shared between other agencies and services and 95% of respondents thought that a move to a single joint decision making model would support interoperability.

Skills for Justice CEO Alan Woods said: “It’s clear from our continuous work with the police and fire and rescue services, and knowledge of the ambulance service, that personnel are trained extensively to do their jobs. We understand the time and resource constraints that joint training and exercising bring but we know that this education is most beneficial when it provides personal contact with responders from other services and includes practical elements that allow assumptions and equipment to be tested.”

The report’s authors are now recommending nationally-developed and funded joint training opportunities should be provided for responders, particularly for those working in ‘bronze’ operational roles. They also recommend standardising joint decision making and intelligence gathering models, as well as national funding for equipment procurement. They also
The report also recommends that a national interactive collaboration tool could be developed. This would be aimed at supporting the development of collaborative learning programmes to ensure that the needs of the three emergency services are met.

The research was conducted as part of Skills for Justice’s ongoing work to support JESIP, which has been established to bring about changes at an operational level that lead to the emergency services working together more effectively at major incidents.

The project has received co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through the Employer Investment Fund.

Read the full report at www.sfjuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Skills-for-Justice-JESIP-Survey-Report_final.pdf