For the majority of my career I’ve been an EVOC instructor. I’ve also supervised and managed other EVOC instructors. I’ve had the honor of assisting other agencies in program development and have seen officer safety improve dramatically through statistical analysis of collision data. I know firsthand the value of training in a vehicle and on a track.
Driver training for law enforcement works, and it doesn’t take long to see real improvement if an agency adopts a viable program. Although there’s debate about what’s the most effective and efficient method for training officers in emergency vehicle operations, until recently I’ve been skeptical—to say the least—of Internet-based training. After all, how can good driver training be conducted over the Web? To me, it seemed lazy. But I’ve since refined my view.
In a small office complex located just outside of Salt Lake City sit the offices of Applied Simulation Technologies (AST). The founder, Reginald Welles, is no stranger to EVOC Training. An engineer by trade, he was integral in developing the original Patrol Sim driving simulator more than a decade ago. His current project is called EVOC-101 Web.
How It Works
EVOC-101 Web provides lessons via the internet that introduce the officer to emergency vehicle survival techniques that are necessary to safely navigate through an intersection. The curriculum is designed to cover all emergency vehicle operators including police, fire and medical personnel. The intersection course consists of the intersection approach, assessment, clearing and intersection departure. Each course is divided into short lessons of 20–30 minutes each. The training is comprehensive and conforms to the general standards promoted by several organizations, including IADLEST and FLETC.
EVOC-101 Web can be purchased as a license for an entire agency or on an individual basis, and once the courses are enabled, the student is presented with a clean, crisp web interface that’s easy to understand and navigate—even for the most reluctant of computer users.
The left of the screen marks the progress throughout the training, and the topic buttons can be used to easily skip to another lesson or repeat a lesson. If a student prefers text over voice, they can enable that by simply clicking on the text icon located at the bottom of the screen. Agencies can add their specific policies or pertinent information under the policy and extras icon. Students must pass each test with a score of 80% or above, and, once completed, a summary sheet and certificate is presented on the screen.
I’ve taken my share of Web-based training, and, for the most part, it fails miserably for me. This is because the majority of it is developed so that most, if not all, of the information presented is in a text or verbal format. If you thought your high school math teacher was boring, try taking your next class over the Internet.
EVOC-101 Web has recognized this pitfall. Although a small portion of the training is verbal and textual, the vast majority of the training consists of showing, interacting, explaining and then the testing progress of the student. Practice through immersion and repetition is highly effective. Each student receives feedback specifically tailored to their own performance.
I was impressed by the ease of the program’s use and the attention to detail both in the instruction and the graphics. The information is presented clearly, and the graphical animations provide an excellent environment for learning. To be able to read, listen and watch all at the same time is a great bonus. Each lesson is divided into numerous subcategories, which permits the student to stop at anytime and come back later to complete the training. This is especially helpful if officers get a limited time each shift for training: It’s no longer necessary to schedule half or full days for training when using EVOC-101 Web.
“EVOC-101 Web has given us flexibility in training the students,” says Sgt. Doug Larsen, who manages Emergency Vehicle Operations for the state of Utah. “The assignment to complete the online training is given a couple of weeks before the actual EVOC training starts. So any cancellations or downtime during those two weeks can be filled by EVOC-101 Web. We’ve used it for over two years and it’s resulted in better prepared students who get higher scores on the simulator and have a stronger understanding of the EVOC training upon their arrival at the range.”
One concern I had about this training was the potential for entertainment to overshadow education. The last thing you want when training for EVOC is for the student to be entertained in a consequence-free gaming environment. This is a challenge on the track, in simulation and interactive training such as EVOC-101 Web. I was pleased to see that while EVOC-101 Web is attention-grabbing, it avoids the feeling of a game. Collisions and risky behaviors aren’t glamorized, and the events are portrayed in a realistic manner.
Although the scenarios increase in complexity as you continue the training, there’s less emphasis on guidance, which seems to optimize the learning process. By demonstrating comprehension through application, the retention rate for learning is much higher than the traditional classroom environment. I’ve seen this firsthand as a student and instructor.
I recently implemented EVOC-101 Web for a recruit class. Not only did I see an increased level of attention and excitement in using EVOC-101 Web over the classroom lecture, I also saw improved scores in the simulation room and the track environment.
Capt. Tim Murray commands the Boston Police e-Learning Program and incorporated aspects of EVOC-101 Web into a driving program for their police recruits. He says, “This type of educational format, which allows for self-paced, asynchronous learning and embraces adult learning principles, seems to have particular appeal with our younger recruits, who have grown up in the computer age.”
Dr. Garry Bell is a psychologist with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who works in the Training Innovation and Research Unit at their National Training Academy. Bell highly recommends EVOC-101 Web and commends the presentation within the product as well as its scoring methodology and interactive training value. Bell states that they “are clearly pleased with the product and the results we have achieved. Students are for the most part very appreciative of what they learn.”
As Bell and others continue to use and research the effectiveness of EVOC-101 Web, the Winnipeg Police Service is convinced of the value. After studying more than one year of data, they have clearly shown that EVOC-101 Web has reduced collision rates. An agency collision survey in 2009 compared the badge numbers of officers involved in each crash. They discovered that those officers who completed the EVOC-101 Web Course were involved in far fewer collisions than those who didn’t complete the course.
The sampling of officers involved at the Winnipeg Police Service was large enough for others to take notice. In 2009, 615 of the 1300 officers were trained in EVOC-101 web and those officers had a collision rate of just 1.1% The 685 officers not trained had a collision rate of 29.8%. Of the 204 collisions in 2009, only seven of them involved officers that had participated in EVOC-101 Web.
Winnipeg Patrol Sgt. Jamie MacDonald set up the EVOC-101 Web program in his agency. After one year, he was transferred to the streets where he observed a significant difference in the driving behavior of the on-duty officers from when he was last assigned to field duty.
MacDonald says that “feedback from the officers has generally been positive and as a patrol sergeant working the street now, the officers are actually utilizing the training in their intersection approaches on the street. In particular, more officers are getting out into the oncoming lanes and cautiously approaching so they are most visible versus forcing civilians into the intersections from behind with their lights and siren.”
How to Use It
Although there have been positive results for the online application alone, the real value of EVOC-101 Web appears to be as a supplement to blended training with simulation and track.
Larsen says that “before we integrated EVOC-101 Web into our training regimen, our students’ knowledge in regards to emergency vehicle operations was all over the chart. This program has resulted in a more uniform understanding by the students. The retention rate is higher when our students train on the Web as opposed to instructor-led training in the classroom. We’ve seen a 10% increase in students scores on the simulators after they have complete EVOC-101 Web versus classroom lectures.”
Boston’s Murray agrees with Larsen.
“When combined with the other aspects of our program, which included classroom instruction, 40-plus hours of hands-on road work, training on our driving simulators, and our own e-Learning Courses, it was our opinion that the EVOC-101 Web program complimented and echoed many of our dynamic teaching points and helped to provide a synergistic training effect to our instructional curriculum.”
The developer of EVOC-101 Web, Reginald Welles, cautions that the Internet is just a conveyance, like the track you train on.
“On the track, it’s the vehicle and the instructors that provide the actual training,” says Welles. “On the Web, it’s the software that provides the training. Not all online training is the same. Our team worked very hard to make EVOC-101 Web practical and effective. You will know the difference the very first time you try it.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
It’s taken years to develop and test EVOC-101 Web and to prove its worth to the emergency driving community. EVOC training is moving in several directions, and EVOC-101 Web provides an example of how technology can improve officer safety.
For additional details on the product and a limited demonstration, visit