<Big Ben, London/>

This client uses realtime events to test and prepare their fast response group for various emergency situations.

An example of this was a session run live in Paris: the only prior information given to the group was that there would be an exercise taking place in the next few weeks, but they weren’t given any specific date, time or idea of what that situation might be.

The delegate team were called in at 7.30 am on the day of the event, with a message telling them that an incident had occurred and that they needed to get to a hotel in the city urgently. They were unaware until they actually arrived whether this was a training exercise or not, but once there, they found that their task was to replicate what they would do in the event of a real disaster, deal with whatever and whoever they found there, gather information, set up information points and brief press and TV as required.

The roleplayer team played family members and officials arriving at the scene wanting information and, later in the session, played press and TV reporters. During the course of the day, realtime information was fed piecemeal through to the delegate team, which had the effect of changing the situation entirely every 20 minutes or so, keeping up the pressure and adjusting the decisions they made during the day. To add to this pressure, a press briefing was arranged for 3 hours into the process and again later in the day, which they had to organise and run for both print and tv.

The emotional levels of the roleplay element in this scenario was high – we were playing parents of missing children and partners and friends of missing people, creating an on-going clamour for information and guidance from potential victim’s families, press, TV and officials that early on in the exercise didn’t exist. The lessons learned from this exercise were valuable and immediate, helping prepare the delegates for dealing with real disaster situations.

‘…What worked well, was that I had good actors, who made the situations very real – and not being a good actor myself, I had no option but to follow their cues. Soon after that, things began to feel very real and I responded accordingly…’

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