Escape room enhances emergency response training

21 January 2022

A training course at the US Department of Energy's Hanford site is using an "escape room" to help employees learn to perform under pressure while using respiratory protection equipment.

HAMMER's respiratory protection training offers real-world simulations (Image: DOE)

The respiratory protection course is delivered by the Volpentest HAMMER (Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response) Federal Training Center on the Hanford site in Richland, Washington. The centre, which was established in 1997, offers "realistic and comprehensive" safety and emergency response training for nuclear waste clean-up workers and emergency response personnel through hands-on activities and real-life scenarios.

The centre has recently redesigned its respiratory protection course to include the escape room, where trainees wear supplied-air equipment while they answer questions, discover clues and solve puzzles in a simulated work environment.

Placing the trainees under pressure to "escape" by completing the activity safely in a limited amount of time before their air bottles empty, the simulation helps them learn the limitations, advantages and disadvantages of respiratory protection equipment.

Many of the centre's programmes are developed by "worker-trainers" with first-hand field experience. "Their efforts to innovate educational methods also ensure a strong, consistent and continuously improving safety culture across the Hanford Site," said Angela Stoddard, programme manager of the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management Richland Operations Office.

The revamped training course also includes creative learning activities using respiratory protection while under pressure from responding to simulated alarms, and dealing with a simulated loss of air while wearing a supplied air respirator.

"HAMMER staff and worker-trainers frequently implement course improvements to meet the Hanford Site’s evolving training needs," said Paul Vandervert, director of HAMMER. "Employee feedback on updates to the respiratory program course has been very positive."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News