Hydra Immersive Simulation System
Whilst the occurrence of events such as critical incidents, terrorist attacks and environmental disasters are rare in most countries, the threat they pose to public safety and national security can be devastating. Building resilience in national security and public safety is reliant on developing experts in crisis management who can act quickly in making decisions and taking action. However, the rarity of these events challenges the development of crisis management expertise as practitioners are unlikely to have ever managed such events before.
The Hydra Immersive Simulation System addresses this problem by allowing teams to practice and improve decision making, communication and leadership skills in an environment that replicates the complexities of real critical incidents. The University of Liverpool is home to the first university based Hydra suite which consists of a control room, three syndicate rooms and a plenary room. Hydra presents teams with a range of audio, video and text based materials to which they must make and record decisions as the exercise progresses. The control room monitors team activity and varies the material teams receive accordingly, thereby creating an interactive event. Where appropriate, subject matter experts review team decisions with participants in plenary sessions.
This tool is supported by the Hydra foundation, a community of users from all around the world who share their knowledge, expertise and resources on a wide variety of topics ranging from hostage negotiation to child protection and counterterrorism (for further details please refer to the Hydra foundation website – www.hydrafoundation.org). Based on the collective experiences of the Hydra community, simulations are developed that present complex, multimodal, multidisciplinary events to illustrate the complexity, uncertainty, time pressure, and levels of stress that are present in real-life critical incidents.
To date Hydra has been used by a variety of public services including police, fire and rescue, social care, health, education and military in order to test their resilience and effectiveness in managing critical incidents. Analysis of these events has been useful in identifying methods for improving critical incident decision making within these organisations.