Keep it Simple, Safety! Lessons from the Flight Deck

May 5, 2021

Kerstin at CrisisVR reminded us all recently of the essentials of emergency preparation. As a commercial airline pilot with 6000 hours experience, she has had her full share of both emergency training and experience of the real thing.

Simplicity and safety go hand-in-hand. 

What can we learn from the flight deck? Operating incidents can be ‘Abnormal’ or an Emergency. Both require procedural training to manage. The consequences of not training for a pre-identified risk, well, perhaps we won’t go into that at this time.

The training and application of this training is also quite straight forward. The 3-step system relies on:

  1. Memory items: first-response actions and priorities that are trained to the point of muscle memory.
  2. Checklists: quickly available, pre-determined, tested and validated actions for resolving a problem.
  3. Manuals: reference material for a deeper understanding.

For crisis and resilience professionals who keep their feet firmly on the ground, take a hard look at this list. Our experience suggests that there are certainly manuals, big ones. But the checklists are often embedded deeply in the manuals, not able to be accessed when and where they are most needed. As for memory items, they are usually on the checklists! How many of us have identified those first priorities and trained them for immediate recall?

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