JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was one of six bases chosen to conduct a month-long trial of revised chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense survival skills training August 2018.
Changes being considered include the reintegration of receiving hands-on, in-person instruction, versus the current computer-based training and evaluation.
“The current course design [being taught Air Force-wide] was for the student to take the CBT and garner 100 percent of the knowledge they needed, which can take up to two hours to complete if done correctly,” said John Werner, 773d Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight chief. “After passing the CBT, the individual would then come to us strictly for an evaluation of the material they had covered, which could take an additional two hours.”
Feedback received by Airmen under the current program reported that individuals who have been taught this cycle multiple times do just fine, while others who are newer or not going through the material as regularly are not absorbing it as well, Werner stated.
Air Force headquarters observed these trends, listened to input from students and instructors, and decided to redesign the course. They implemented the month-long trial to offer further feedback opportunities and provide better policy implementation.
“Changes to this training have been evolving for quite some time and policy changes are occurring rapidly compared to the past,” Werner said. “Timelines and target audiences have all changed drastically in the last two years because of the perishing skills and the need for the Airman to be ready.”
During the test-month, more than 100 Airmen on JBER were separated into six classes. The average class time from start to finish was about three hours, but it will be up to individual bases to determine their class times.
While it may look like the training takes the same amount of time, replacing the CBT with classroom instruction and hands-on involvement means Airmen will be in front of a monitor less and have no lapses in time between learning and implementation, said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cierra Andrews, noncommissioned officer of emergency management training.
“We saw positive feedback from the individuals who were able to go through the class stating they felt like they had gained or absorbed more from getting in-person instruction,” Andrews said. “They said it gave them the ability to ask a question instead of waiting for days or weeks. The instructors were also able to give personal stories of being deployed or tasked out and that’s not something you can get from a computer.”
As one of six bases chosen, JBER was given an opportunity to help shape the future of this significant training. Once training is completed, the data will be reviewed and potentially evolve into new Air Force policy that could go into effect within 60 to 90 days of implementation.
“The main thing this new training will provide is a standardized training for bases to use and then localize it for what is important to them,” Werner said. “For us being one of six bases selected to participate is a big deal; this was our chance to effect positive change. Those who participated had an opportunity for their voices to be heard and shape the future of the Air Force.”