During and after the pandemic, people became much more aware of how many disease can spread. Mitigating the spread of disease as a first responder goes beyond just COVID-19. Officers are in close contact with many people, and any of them could – knowingly or unknowingly – have an infectious disease.

Understanding the diseases and sicknesses that are at the highest risk for law enforcement officers to obtain is the start. Officers also benefit from understanding how diseases can spread and what the signs and symptoms are.

VirTra’s “Infectious Diseases” course provides 4 hours of material for officers to learn from. There are also 3 associated scenarios to help officers practice interactions.

 

Common Diseases and Infections

Disease can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi. Viral infections are a common way for first responders to become sick due to contact with the public. HIV, tuberculosis, COVID-19, hepatitis, and the common cold are some examples of viruses obtained through direct or indirect contact.

To become infected with a virus/bacteria, typically one of the following contacts have occurred:

  • Exposed to the saliva or respiratory droplets of an infected person. This can happen when the person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks loudly in close proximity. Tuberculosis and COVID-19 may spread in this manner.
  • Contact with the blood, urine, or excrement of an infected person. This occurs when a person encounters an unclean environment that contains traces of the listed substances. It can also happen if pricked with a needle used by a person with the disease or if these substances come in contact with an open wound. Hepatitis and HIV may be spread this way.
  • Contact with an animal carrying the virus. A scratch or bite that exposes you to the saliva can transfer a viral infection. Rabies is a virus spread in this manner. Animal excrement may also carry disease.
  • Consuming contaminated food may lead to both viral or bacterial diseases. E. coli and some Hepatitis variants may be obtained through contaminated or expired food.

The list above is certainly not exhaustive. Some organisms may even linger on objects that were handled by someone with a virus. This is why it is important to take reasonable precautions if there is a risk of becoming ill.

 

Preventing the Spread of Diseases

While it is not always foolproof, there are several ways to greatly mitigate the spread of disease. Decreasing the risk of infection can be as simple as washing your hands or avoiding touching your nose and mouth.

Washing your hands frequently – not just when you believe you have touched a sick person – is important. If you unconsciously touch your face with unclean hands or eat without washing them, you could pick up an organism. Make sure your hands are either thoroughly washed with soap, or that you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Using personal protective equipment (PPE) may be necessary to avoid contact with contaminated surfaces or airborne particles. Gloves, face masks, and eye protection are some examples of PPE that can be used on the field if needed. N-95-rated masks may be required for specific organisms to be effective.

It is also recommended that you stay home if you feel ill. You may have a weak immune system and expose yourself to other viruses, plus you may spread a virus to other colleagues. If you are predisposed to infection or have a weakened immune system, taking more precautions helps you better prepare for possible exposure to germs.

 

VirTra’s Infectious Diseases Simulated Scenarios

Our V-VICTA® course, Infectious Diseases, allows not only for classroom learning, but for real world practice. Some scenarios deal with an individual coughing, letting the officer decide how to handle the situation while protecting themselves. Another deals with irate people who do not wish to comply with a business’ PPE rules.

The scenarios help supplement the learning of this important topic. The course comes with an entire manual containing instructor guides, note taking materials, tests, scoring rubrics, and more. Even better? When the course is completed, students receive a certificate of completion and earn NCP credit.

If you are interested in VirTra’s coursework and want to learn how to incorporate it into your agency’s training regime, contact a specialist.

There’s no such thing as a professional bystander. You can’t consider yourself a “professional” if you aren’t going to take action when you see something wrong being done by a co-worker. In law enforcement, your failure to intervene could result in discipline, losing your job, being sued civilly or even being charged criminally.

Not only can this affect the individual officer, but it also has a direct effect on the public perception of law enforcement as a whole. These types of incidents thrusts law enforcement into the national spotlight. A spotlight that has played a role in American’s confidence in law enforcement dropping to 48%.

What does it mean to fail to intervene? In a nutshell, it means that an officer who purposefully allows a fellow officer to violate a person’s Constitutional rights may be prosecuted for failure to intervene to stop the Constitutional violation. (Department of Justice, n.d.)

The next question you might have is, “Who does this apply to?” When it comes to an officer’s duty to intervene, courts have stated that it applies to EVERY officer of EVERY rank, including all levels of command staff. (Putman v. Gerloff, 1981). The duty to intervene even carries across situations that might involve officers from different agencies working together.

Courts recognize that not all situations can be stopped by an intervening officer. For example, an officer that runs up to a suspect and punches them before you even had time to realize what was happening. In cases like this, courts recognize that an officer does not always have an opportunity to stop the other person’s action. While you may not be able to stop the action when it occurs, you still must follow through with reporting the unconstitutional act in an appropriate and timely manner.

Failing to take action is only half of this discussion. The other half must deal with HOW you should take action. Many officers have never been exposed to this type of training, so they are unsure on what their options are, as well as what their obligations might be.

But don’t worry, VirTra has you covered!

In our upcoming V-VICTA® curriculum, “Duty to Intervene: No Such Thing as a Professional Bystander,” we will give your agency all the tools needed to work through or even avoid a circumstance where officers need to intervene.

You will learn how having the correct policies in place can help avoid these types of situations. It also discusses the types of training officers should stay up to date on, as well as best practices that have worked in other agencies.

Included with the curriculum is a set of custom-made videos for students and instructors to watch and discuss how they would handle what occurred in the videos. There will also be brand new scenarios that were designed around the duty to intervene training. The new scenarios include a vehicle contact, a suspicious person, and a large-scale protest. The entire course can be done within your VirTra simulator and can provide your officers with 2 hours of IADLEST certified training.

Stay Safe. Stay Dedicated.

 

References

 

Imagine yourself in a rapidly evolving situation with an irate subject. You only have a limited time to properly take control of the situation by de-escalating or using the appropriate level of force. One mistake can cost lives – your own and others. Experienced officers have learned to navigate difficult situations under stress, but can always benefit from refresh courses. Trainees and new recruits need hundreds of learning opportunities to develop these crucial skills.

In order to learn and practice the skills needed, law enforcement officers must practice in a similar circumstance. In our case, a realistic, stress-inducing environment. Trainees also benefit from learning in classroom settings in order to learn the foundation and the basics of actions. VirTra combines both the realistic environment with nationally-certified classroom training in a revolutionary program called V-VICTA®—Virtual Interactive Coursework Training Academy.

The Whole Training Package

V-VICTA is designed to teach, train, test and sustain both trainees and officers in a variety of critical, life-saving skills. Instructors receive an entire training package for each course—slide presentations, lesson plans, tests, corresponding simulated scenarios and more. This allows instructors to teach the concept in the classroom, then immediately train the skill in the simulator. Best of all, V-VICTA curricula comes free with all law enforcement simulators, simultaneously easing the financial burden on departments while providing high-quality modern training.

From Autism Awareness to Red Dot Optic Training and Sustainment, VirTra ensures every course has ample information provided by in-house subject matter experts, partners and other industry experts. In addition to simulation science, our partners also provide us with new information, studies and insights—such as our partnership with SARRC for our Autism curriculum—which in turn is passed on to our clients and their officers.

National Certification Saves Time and Money

Think of all the steps you have to take to create curriculum, let alone have it certified. You have to write lesson plans, research topics and have the course reviewed to ensure clarity. If you want to nationally certify it, you have to submit it for review and make necessary corrections in order for it to meet training standards. All of this takes time and requires spending.

Many training simulation companies would stop at simply creating it, but VirTra does the work of certifying the coursework for agencies, alleviating some pressure. All V-VICTA courses are nationally-certified through the IADLEST National Certification Program™ for POST Certification, which sets the national training standards for curriculum certification across 36 states. To ensure only the highest quality training receives this certification, each course is critically reviewed by IADLEST members and must then pass the rigors of their independent review process.

With all V-VICTA materials bearing the NCP seal, instructors know they are receiving quality training materials, thus saving time and money from creating their own coursework. In fact, as of May 2022, VirTra offers 82.75 hours of V-VICTA training. Because 1 hour of curriculum takes an average of 50 hours of research, preparation and approvals, VirTra’s offering of 82.75 hours of training saves departments roughly 5,378.75 man-hours. Imagine how much more can be accomplished as an instructor when you save more than 5,000 hours! Because these curricula are both POST approved and nationally-certified, departments automatically receive training hours whenever the curriculum is taught. Officers who complete the training are awarded with an official certificate.

In addition to saving departments time from creating the training materials, V-VICTA further saves time through the curriculum’s structure. All modules can be broken into 15–30-minute intervals for optimal roll call learning, or if one’s schedule allows for quick periods of training. This method known as “interleaved/interwoven training” ensures officers receive quality training without sacrificing extensive periods of time.

A Glimpse at V-VICTA

One of our recent curricula is our Special Populations: Autism Awareness training. In 2021, the CDC has discovered that 1 in 44 children has been diagnosed with autism, making this training critical for all officers, as they are likely to eventually encounter someone on the spectrum. Those with autism may have difficulty communicating and exhibit repetitive behavior and/or speech patterns, so officers must know how to properly recognize the signs and interact.

To first educate officers, the Autism Awareness curriculum provides instructors with a lesson plan and presentation that teaches some of the more common signs of autism, including: avoiding eye contact, hand flapping, rocking back and forth, resistance to control, etc. This is paired with a training scenario featuring SARRC CEO Daniel Openden, who goes into further detail. After gaining this understanding, officers are able to practice their skills with the corresponding scenarios. Actual adults with autism are featured in the scenarios to provide police the chance to see real-life examples of autistic behaviors.

In creating these materials, several VirTra clients participated in review and early beta testing of both the curriculum materials and scenarios. After months of research, hard work, testing, filming and certification, Autism Awareness was ready to be used on VirTra’s simulators. Now, dozens of agencies around the United States are using scenarios that can assist them in recognizing the signs of autism.

Besides Autism Awareness, other available courses include the following (with more to come):

Future courses that are in development and set to be released to VirTra’s law enforcement clients include duty to intervene, infectious diseases and deaf/hard of hearing.

Getting Started

Getting started with using V-VICTA is easy. All current VirTra clients have access to the materials. New courses that come out are installed on annual service trips, ensuring that agencies don’t miss out on any coursework as it launches. VirTra has simplified the process so that all you need to do is access the files, review the materials and then teach your class.

Training is a critical component for law enforcement, but the quality of the training is just as important. With lives on the line, and the dangerous atmosphere that comes with the job, instructors must train their officers to the highest level of preparedness. V-VICTA serves as one of the best and easiest resources, with no hassle, as it comes free with all law enforcement simulators. Start training your officers in the most modern, powerful, stress-inoculating simulators on the market. Talk to a VirTra representative to get started.

 

Article originally published by Officer.com

The newly introduced V-VICTA® (VirTra – Virtual Interactive Coursework Training Academy) is already making an impact for law enforcement training. VirTra has partnered with nationally recognized partners in their respected industries on the new law enforcement training curriculum and new scenarios to include experts like Haley Strategic, National Sheriffs’ Association, National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA), Office of the Utah Attorney General, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) Trijicon, and Vistelar just to name a few. We are proud to have these respected partners help develop the curriculum to adapt to what is needed by officers everywhere.

VirTra is ensuring integration of what leading science has discovered about Simulation and adult learning and woven it into all of our material, which maximizes the effects of training time and increased abilities. We strive to ensure that Peace Officers have the best opportunity to train and serve their communities better.

VirTra has taken the science behind teaching and training psychomotor skills and integrated it into a comprehensive and full solution training curriculum. These law enforcement training courses provide a complete solution and integrate the classroom, the simulator, and testing to ensure the best efforts in the long-term, to achieve consistent performance from the students.

Before having V-VICTA, our customers have stated that it took them anywhere from 25 hours to a full 40 hours to create just ONE hour of curriculum for their department. Now they have 20+ hours of curriculum ready for use. Here are what some of our amazing partners are saying about the how our newest law enforcement training tool is elevating their training methods to teach, train, test, and sustain their team for years to come:

“Our collaboration with VirTra enables students — outside the classroom — to do “fire drills” using our tactics in real-world simulations of verbal conflict.”
– Vistelar

“This innovative program provides a methodology to assist agencies in the initial training on the use of a Red Dot Optic, and also to facilitate the ongoing maintenance of the skills by allowing for structured performance enhancing “boosters.”
– Trijicon

“This course will give them much-needed tools to recognize and address possible conflict with dogs instead of simply shooting an animal.”
– National Sheriff’s Association

“The new scenarios were created with a breadth of training and educational options seen in the multiple branches. VirTra curriculum developers worked with us to create a platform for effectively teaching constitutional policing principles.”
– Ken Wallentine Special Agent, Utah Attorney General

V-VICTA comes included with your law enforcement system and provides a whole new level of training to help your trainers think outside the simulator and keep your team prepared for the unexpected.  Even better, this is only the first volume to be released, and many more curriculum on crucial areas of training are still to come. Contact us to learn more about how you can add V-VICTA to your training curriculum.