Doctor provides the right medicine for police training

A hospital doctor studying for a PhD at the University of Salford has been branching out by using technology to help Greater Manchester Police prepare for major incidents.

Dr Jane Mooney has developed computerised training systems for the police which help them simulate a crisis situation and practice their responses.

Using connected laptops, Jane's software simulates a music festival in Manchester where one of the stages has collapsed.

The team of up to three officers - who range from sergeants to inspectors - have to respond to real-time messages to contain the incident and provide help. They can then compare their results with other teams following the session and learn lessons.

Teams are faced with scenarios like establishing a safety cordon, receiving updates from ambulance services and need to work as a team to gain experience that will stand them in good stead in a real emergency.

Over 100 officers have now used Jane's software and are finding it to be a major improvement on the previous PowerPoint methods. Inspector June Roby from the Greater Manchester Police Resilience Development Unit said: "We were looking for some exercise methods which proved a bit more interactive than the usual table-top, and Jane's package has been very popular with all the staff who have engaged with it. The feedback has been extremely positive with the majority of staff reporting that they found the experience worthwhile."

Jane got involved as a part of her PhD, though police training is not the focus of her studies. Instead she's been using her medical background in combination with expertise from the University's School of Computing, Science & Engineering to develop emergency planning training software for the Advanced Life Support Group - a charity dedicated to saving life by providing training.

Meanwhile though, the police training is going from strength to strength as it is being taken up by more levels of the Greater Manchester service and Jane has received a Branch Commander's Commendation in recognition of her work on this project.

Jane said: "This is an example of technology that has been developed for games coming into more professional circles. It's a much improved way for people to learn and can mirror real life situations much more effectively than traditional classroom methods. It has been great working with the police team and an honour to receive the award."

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