Friday, March 02, 2012

Cross Training

No, not physical cross-training (although that kind is important also). Today I want to talk about cross-training survival group or team members. See, every person on the team should have a primary and at least one secondary duty.

Sally may be a paramedic by vocation and so she would be a good choice to be the Group Medical Officer (assuming she is most medically qualified). As such, she would be responsible for supervising Group member health; managing and procuring group medical stores; treating illness and injury to her level of certification in normal times and to the best of her ability in times of emergency; advising the Group Leadership on all medical matters; and cross training group members in medical areas. More on that in a bit.

She may also have a secondary duty of, oh, Transportation Officer. She assists the Transportation Officer in his duties and fills in for him when he is unavailable. Let’s say the Transportation Officer’s duties include: Maintaining Group transportation assets; managing logistical support for same; assisting the Operations Officer in planning group movement; procuring Group Transportation; advising the Group Leadership on all transportation matters; and cross training group members in transportation matters. Perhaps she was given this secondary duty because she had some skills or interests in this area. Maybe she had her own ’78 CJ and had helped with an engine swap on it and supervised the maintenance of her family’s vehicles but the Group Transportation Officer was an actual mechanic and so a better fit for his job.

You can read above that both duties require cross training other Group Members. We do this to create and preserve redundancy of abilities, to maintain flexibility and to make sure we do not totally lose a skill set if/when we lose a member. Cross training takes place on two levels.

Level One
A primary Officer must train their secondary. This is not “cross training” in the strictest sense of the term but it is in general. The primary should train the secondary to be as skilled as he/she is. One should always be training one’s replacement. The primary trains and then supervises the secondary in execution of tasks. The primary may train and then assign the secondary to give a class to other Group members on a certain subject. One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it.

Level Two
This is where we get to cross training in the strictest sense of the term. For the sake of discussion, let us agree to call our primary officers (In this case, Sally, the Medical Officer) “experts”. Hey, she is the most expert that our Group has so she is the “medical expert” as far as we are concerned. The secondary officer is not an expert but is “very good”.

We want everyone else in the group to at least be “okay” in the skills wielded by the expert. If the primary and the secondary officer are both out of the picture, we don’t want the Group to be totally unable to handle medical issues (or transportation issues or any other issues). And so we CROSS TRAIN all group members in medical skills. The Medical Officer is responsible for overseeing that training and monitoring Group performance levels. She may teach it herself, she may assign her secondary to teach it, or they may both teach nearly simultaneously.

This cross training must be scheduled for all areas of expertise. Before cross training can occur, the principle instructors must have time and other resources made available to prepare for the instruction.

Another level of training is skills maintenance – the primary and secondary officers must be allowed to pursue additional training to keep their skills sharp and stay on top of new techniques. But that gets us into the greater realm of Training and will have to wait for another time…

Even if you do not yet belong to a survivalist group, you can still benefit from the concept of cross training in your family. You should strive to ensure that your family is able to cover for each other if one member “goes down”. If mom is sick in bed, someone should be able to take care of her, someone to keep good food on the table and so on. If dad is on a trip out of town, someone should be able to do his normal duties – I don’t know… mowing the lawn, changing the oil, etc.

Cross train – it builds flexibility into a system that soon may be incredibly stressed.

I’ll see ya out there.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

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Prepared Americans for a Strong America


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