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How ETS supported Op GRITROCK

In August 2014 Army Medical Services Training Centre (AMSTC) was tasked to design, construct and assure training for what has been described as the “most dangerous medical mission ever undertaken by Defence Medical Services”. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was moving into crisis and the MoD had been asked to support the Department for International Development (DfID) in countering the disease.

Op GRITROCK saw the British Army provide medical, planning and engineering capabilities to the Sierra Leonean Government; building and running Ebola treatment centres and training their healthcare workers, police and civilians.

That AMSTC were able to deploy medical personnel with the appropriate knowledge and training, straight to an unknown theatre of operation at such short notice, was no mean feat.

Aware that getting this training correct would keep our personnel safe from this most virulent of viruses, AMSTC enlisted the support of the Education and Training Services (ETS) branch of the Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC). Traditionally perceived as academics who prepare soldiers and officers for promotion, the ETS are also Masters level specialists in training theory and innovation.

ETS from the Directorate of Training identified early on that the application of learning technology underpinned with sound academic theory was the most suitable way forward. This stemmed from the international nature of the crisis, the remote areas of operations, the varying educational levels of personnel, the mix of regular and reserve and the fact treatment practices were evolving on a near daily basis.

Through forensic attention to detail, the cap badge partnership designed numerous innovative processes which have brought acclaim, acumen and requests for access. However, more importantly, they brought confidence to those deploying that the new skills were fit for purpose and would allow them to treat patients to UK standards in the rigour of a West African jungle without the threat of becoming a casualty themselves.

One example of innovation was the creation of the GRITROCK online eLearning portal. The successful execution of the project included five strands offering a combination of learning material from videos to interactive training presentations.

Drop in fatalities

The impact of this training project is huge, not only in lives saved, but also money and time saved to deliver appropriate sustainable training. The five strands provide a lasting legacy and ongoing eLearning resource, with the materials available and ready for any future outbreak.

This methodology soon became not only the Defence solution but also that of DfID and then quickly moved to be the international centre for NGOs, with now more than a thousand personnel undergoing training at AMSTC.

At the peak of the epidemic 600 people lost their lives to Ebola every day. With effective medical intervention from Op GRITROCK, this figure dropped to one per day. The learning technology solution combined with AMSTCs medical training provided staff on the ground with the knowledge, skills and confidence to work in an extremely dangerous environment. In turn this enabled them to provide critical support to local and Non-Government Organisations on the Ebola front line.

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