Using Games and Simulations for Preparedness and Response Training

State: IL Type: Model Practice Year: 2008

Develop a cost-effective training in how to effectively operate a Point of Dispensing (POD). Develop a training that serves as an intermediary between tabletop and full-scale exercises, enabling jurisdictions to focus full-scale exercises on speed as opposed to skill development (strict timelines for CRI). Develop a training that creates an effective, competent staff that will help to decrease morbidity and mortality in a mass dispensing effort. Be able to deliver that training to a large amount of people. Develop a training that can be delivered "anytime and anywhere." Develop a training that can be taken repeatedly. Develop a training where worker competency can be tracked and reported. Develop a training that is integrated into a Learning Management System. Develop a training that is engaging (motivational).
The public health issue this practice addresses is preparing public health workers to operate a mass dispensing effort in the event of a large-scale disaster. The following process was used to determine the public health issue's relevancy to the community. Numerous federal entities (including CDC and Homeland Security) have deemed this a necessary and relevant public health capability to respond to known threats. CDC has implemented the City Readiness Initiative, which requires jurisdictions to prophylax entire populations within a 48-hour time frame. In large jurisdictions such as Chicago (three million residents), this training provides the capability to have sufficient numbers of trained staff to carry out the CRI mission. In Chicago, this mission would require 18,000 trained staff members per day. The same application is fully scaleable--it can be used just as effectively for small jurisdictions as for large ones.
Agency Community RolesCPHD's role in the practice is in providing all the operational components (the POD plan), which determined the structure of the game, in the scenario development, which addresses the specific challenges that would slow down POD flow, in the didactic development piece, and in the implementation strategy, which determines the frequency of play and, thus, the effectiveness of the training. Costs and ExpendituresImplementation and start-up costs: $300,000. ImplementationThe development of the game is complete. CDPH is now doing a massive public relations campaign, which includes mass e-mails and exposure to the game at small and large staff meetings (including all-staff meeting). The game is available in CDPH's Learning Management System (LMS) but is also available via a public LMS, so the game can be made available to non-health first responders (e.g., police, fire, emergency management). CDPH's LMS enables supervisory staff to track training, knowledge, and competency.
Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has used gaming technology to train public health workers in their roles in a POD with the anticipation that the engaging format increases knowledge retainment at higher rates than traditional face-to-face training. CDPH conducted a comprehensive game evaluation, which focused on formative issues that staff can use to improve the instructional content and delivery of the game and summative issues related to student “outcomes” or the degree of learning that took place as a result of participation in the game. The results of this evaluation of the computer-based simulation to train staff about the responsibilities related to the role of a Medical Screener in a mass POD show that this relatively brief computer simulation is at least as effective in helping staff members learn their roles as the current method of training, face-to-face lecture.
The bulk of the cost for the POD game was in the development, which is completed. The sustainability lies solely in maintenance (and possibly some enhancements), which is minimal. Therefore, there is no financial reason for termination of the effort. There is tremendous stakeholder commitment to perpetuate the practice. The evaluation was part of the plan to ensure the continued commitment; now, the increase in use of the game, along with reporting, will further that commitment. CDPH requires all employees who will have a role in a POD to play the game.