Why is the tube cutting back on training
A while back I attended a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
gathering in London, debating how to prove a return on investment (ROI) in
training to an organisation.
I don’t know if anyone from London Underground was there. If they weren’t,
they should have been, for they could have shed some light on why they are
supposedly failing to provide adequate staff training on how to deal with a
terrorist attack on London.
It was brought to my attention by a recent Panorama programme that London
Underground staff have received no training on this issue whatsoever. Workers
interviewed by the programme said they’d had a few tips handed around on a
sheet of paper. But apart from that, there’s been zilch – no simulation of what
the situation would be like, or information on who would call who and on what
(walkie talkies and mobile phones don’t work in tunnels, as you may well have
noticed), or how to deal with the injured and trapped, and what to seal off
where. As one worker put it: "We’re in the front line in such an event
because we’ll be there before any other services, yet we wouldn’t have a clue
what to do."
Panorama presented a fictional scenario and a highly believable recipe for
disaster. It ‘exploded’ four bombs in different locations across the
Underground network, and then ‘crashed’ a tanker filled with chlorine close to
the City. A crisis panel made up of a former Met Police chief, an intelligence
officer and a politician, among others, then had to orchestrate dealing with
the aftermath. It failed dismally, severely hampered by under-resourced and
unprepared key services, traffic jams and poor communications between disparate
groups such as the Territorial Army.
If the London Underground has held back on training staff to deal with what
has now become a likely event because it cannot justify ROI, then the world has
gone quite mad.
Hartley is an HR director at large