Why does training matter?
“Training simulations mean that if you're faced with that scenario for real, you're in a much stronger position on how you should behave and react. Security training that involves simulation and scenarios is very powerful, and it has to become quite personal. We want to see how people can get through certain things. Simulation of scenarios like landmines, car bombs, and kidnappings is helpful, because things like that do happen. They did in my case - in two different countries. Although each situation is different, experiencing it once means you’ll know how to react.”
An assignment in Chechnya stands out as Jan’s most extreme demonstration of this. “We were attacked by mercenaries (one of the many security challenges we had there), who came into our compound and put pistols to our heads”, he recalls. He’d experienced this scenario in his security training. “I was standing next to someone who was a very experienced humanitarian, but who had never been in a scenario like this. He reacted very badly.”
He had good reason to be afraid. Just two days after Jan left Chechnya for home, several of his colleagues were killed by mercenaries. "Those are tough assignments”, says Jan. "Extreme situations, and not the norm". The experience of the training, as well as what Jan describes as a "sensible approach", enabled him to stay calm and increased his chances.
RedR training creates more realistic expectations. "People often have idealistic visions of helping people," says Jan, "that don’t account for the realities of a context which can get very stressful, political, money-oriented, and even corrupt. Courses are an important opportunity for candidates to hear what humanitarian work is actually like. Psychology tests and other tools to help prepare candidates from a personal perspective might be helpful as well. There is only so much work you can do to select a person, and it's hard to find someone who ticks all the boxes. RedR is unique in its selection process for members, which produces a pool of people to tap into. RedR UK courses are highly appreciated for their quality. The training works. When you meet people trained by RedR UK you can tell – it sticks."