Ensuring that employees are able to deal with any incident


featival-insightsImmersive learning for event managers, security personnel and those dealing with crowd and crisis management was thrown into sharp relief recently with the roller coaster incident at Alton Towers. In the previous four weeks Mind Over Matter had provided scenario-based courses for a range of events, festivals and venues across the UK including the National Arenas Association. Part of this learning involved an incident in a theme park where a roller coaster had derailed in a tunnel. The exercise invited participants, playing various roles, to solve the issues by working together in teams. After the Alton Towers incident I received a heap of e-mails stating how uncanny and timely this type of training had been.

Immersive learning is a technique that may be used as part of all training activities, giving those participating a real life, real time scenario based learning activity. This enables them to be put under pressure to perform in situations that may occur at real live events. The delivery of tabletops is a good substitute for such activity but unless you get people to feel, see and act in situations they cannot replicate this in situ. Reiteration is absolutely key in such activities. As well as the activity, the feedback, refection time and running of parallel activities helps everyone to learn from both good practice and mistakes. Using small groups of 4 – 6 people helps those in the situation to run ideas past others, formulate solutions and then to apply the solutions in practice without being afraid of the consequences. However, if the consequences are negative or time sensitive the reflection and feedback given those involved time to think about alternatives and other solutions which may be just as effective and efficient. Playing with the time is another positive element of immersive learning as you can use it to ramp up the pressure on individuals or groups or increase the time given for an activity to enable those new to a team sufficient time to make decisions dependent on the situation, context and environment.

Professor Chris Kemp is known primarily for his work in crowd management and his ceaseless endeavour to make events safer. As a key member of Yourope Event Safety Group (YES), Chris has been asked to speak on many occasions across the globe on aspects of crowd safety. He addressed the House of Commons Select Committee for Olympic Security on the merits of training for the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as the Royal Society of Medicine. Chris was employed by the HSE as their crowd expert for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Having worked in the music industry as a promoter and venue manager for over a decade before entering academia, he has a wide range of practical knowledge as well as an academic underpinning to his work with Mind Over Matter Consultancy.

The majority of MOM’s globe-spanning work focusses on three main aspects: the development and delivery of bespoke courses for major festivals, venues and events companies; consultancy projects most of which focus on unusual issues and problems; and leadership and management for a range of clients. In this article Chris discusses the virtues of ‘immersive learning’ for festival employees.