GAMMA-EC: Gaming And MultiMedia Applications for Environmental Crisis Management Training
(IFFN No. 23 – December 2000,p. 96-99)
Disasters do not happen every day. Therefore, disaster management will never be part of the daily routine of the fire brigade, police or health care units. In order to be prepared to these situations as good as possible, however, these organisations exercise regularly. These exercises are mostly limited to the own organisation, for, due to a lack of time, fire brigade, police and health care units do not often succeed in arranging multidisciplinary training programmes. This is due to the pressure of the daily operational process, and to the large amount of time and effort that is needed in order to prepare such an exercise. GAMMA-EC (Gaming And MultiMedia Applications for Environmental Crisis management training) is developed to reduce this amount of time and effort, and to promote education and training.
The GAMMA-EC Project
The goal of GAMMA-EC is to develop educational and training tools for disaster management. These tools consist of a multimedia application for the individual education of the public official within their own work field, and of an interactive game simulation for multidisciplinary team training. Within this project (1998-2000), the multimedia application and the interactive game simulation will be elaborated for two types of disasters: forest fires and chemical accidents. In the long term the intention is to extend the educational and training tools for other types of disaster, such as for example floods and nuclear accidents.
The multimedia application is intended to complete and freshen up the officials knowledge. In addition to this, the application can be used to apply the acquired knowledge in simple cases (Fig.1). These cases, or scenarios, are the core of the multimedia course. The purpose of the scenario is to let the trainee test its knowledge or browse the knowledge base by trying to solve the problems he faces as he goes through the scenario. Such a training tool enables the official to determine himself the place and moment he wants to get to work with this application. In this way the official is able to prepare well for this team training.
Interactive game simulation
The interactive game simulation supports the training management with the preparation of the exercise (such as making scenarios), as well as with the real performance of the multidisciplinary team training. The interactive game simulation supplies the necessary feedback with regard to the development of the disaster, taking into account the events set in advance (scenarios) and the players actions and decisions. The actions and decisions will relate to evacuation, warning the population, combating the cause, etc. During the team training, the officials are in a room resembling the officials natural surroundings as much as possible (Fig.2). Via the usual lines of communication the report concerning the development of the (simulated) disaster reaches the official.
With this interactive game simulation, skills such as coordination, communication, decision-making under time pressure, and decision- making based on unreliable and incomplete information can be trained. Elements from the exercises can be reused through the generic intention of the game simulation, which considerably reduces the effort for making new exercises. During the game the simulation calculates the consequences of decisions for the further development of the disaster, which makes the output consistent. Because of this, it is expected that the training management required will be reduced with respect to the present exercise method.
An existing exercise can be used several times to train different teams. For example, the exercise developed during the project will be available for fire academies willing to have a training session.
The game simulation tools also facilitates the creation of new exercises: it includes an exercise definition module.
Both the multimedia application and the interactive game simulation are developed from an instructional viewpoint.
Fig.1. Example of interactive problem solving in the multimedia tool
The GAMMA-EC Consortium
Regarding forest fires, the work is carried out in collaboration with three fire brigade academies or fire research centres, from Spain, Italy and France. They take part in writing the multimedia scenarios and the exercise, according to the identified learning goals. NIBRA (Netherlands fire academy) plays the same role in the field of chemical accidents.
These fire academies play a key part in the project, as expert in the field of disaster management. They also represent the future users of the tools that are developed in GAMMA-EC.
The Consortium itself consists of research organisation from 4 countries :
the Faculty of Education of the University of Barcelona has executed a target group analysis and an educational target analysis.
Italsoft, an Italian software company develops the multimedia application (assisted by Mafrau) based on these analyses,
TNO (Netherlands) develops the interactive game simulation.
where forest fires are concerned, the project team makes use of the specific knowledge of MTDA, from France.
Fig.2. The game set up
Agence MTDA Daniel Alexandrian and Isabelle Lagarde 298, Avenue du Club Hippique 13 084 Aix-en-Provence Cedex 2 FRANCE