All Training Courses are not to be Considered Equal

This is probably my first real whinge post. But last week, I spent a good 9 hours on a Sunday in a training course that was a huge waste of time. And this was vital training - gun safety.

The Requirement

As part of our firearm safety plan, it is a requirement for all personnel using a firearm on the airport to have completed, in the previous 12 months, a gun safety course.

In writing this requirement, I kept it a little vague instead relying on the statutory requirement for such a course to be completed prior to the issue of a licence. I was thinking that this requirement, with it's backup in the form of training standards, would suffice as a key risk treatment strategy.

The Course

Unfortunately, today's training was not all I had hoped. I tagged along to meet my own personal expectations of accountability and I'm glad that I did. I don't doubt that the other's from my airport who attended would have given me a frank appraisal of their Sunday spent but I'm happy for the first hand knowledge.

Very little was offered by way of actual instruction with assessment left to the group to fumble our way through. Luckily for me, I have had some experience with firearms and was able to fill in a few gaps with only a little discussion but some of the more green attendees must have been scratching their heads at all the new words and concepts.

The practical side did little to develop the theory and descended into a bit of a "check out my big gun" show. Anyway, it's done now. Let's just notch that up to experience.

The Back-Up Plan

While the training will suffice for the airport staff who require a licence, I already had a back-up plan should the training not turn out as it should.

In a couple of weeks, our airport will be hosting an experienced instructor in bird and animal hazard management techniques including firearms. At this training, the airport team will receive specifically tailored training in the tools and techniques related to bird harassment using firearms. That should achieve the objective I set in the firearm safety plan.

The Lesson

The #1 lesson here is, of course, don't expect the completion of a training course to equate to the development of competence in your team. It is an easy trap to fall into - identify skill gap, identify training course, send operators to training, problem solved.

Ahh, no. That's not enough.

Either you need to validate the training course or assess the competence of staff upon their return. There is no way around it. If an airport manager wants to consider themselves accountable, he or she has to do more than tick the "training course undertaken" box.