Royal Bay drama students help police train for emergency

Students helped train crisis negotiators by acting out scenarios

Royal Bay drama students partnered up with police to facilitate a training day for crisis negotiators.

On March 13, the students at Colwood’s Royal Bay high school worked with RCMP to help train Vancouver Island’s 12 RCMP crisis negotiators.

Crisis negotiators receive specialized training through the RCMP that is aimed at peacefully resolving tense situations. They are part of the Critical Incident Program and are called out along with the Emergency Response Team.

The Royal Bay students were prepped for their roles by their drama teacher, Melissa Young.

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The negotiators were seated in the audience with their backs turned to the stage. They were unable to observe the scene and had to rely on their listening skills and the limited information they were given to determine the best course of action and decide what they were going to say.

“Crisis negotiation is a perishable skill,” said Vancouver Island crisis negotiation team coordinator Cpl. Jill Swann. “For us, this type of scenario-based training is invaluable and is an example of how police can partner with the youth in our community.”

Swann said students were able to witness how police work can positively impact lives and were part of the impact as well.

Young instructed the students to react to the negotiators and to follow their instincts with improvised responses.

After each scenario, students and negotiators were debriefed. Students provided constructive criticism to the negotiators, discussing matters like tone of voice and specific references that made the students either like or dislike the negotiator during the scenario.

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Drama student Jackson Fraser has been participating in these training sessions for the past three years.

“What’s interesting is to see if the negotiators learn through the scenarios with the students,” Fraser said. “We are side-by-side, acting in these super realistic situations. It’s important for us to learn about crisis so that it can be addressed for what it is.”

Const. Saggar of West Shore RCMP said the students did an “outstanding” job with their acting.

“In one scenario, the students acted out a hostage situation in which the crisis negotiator was challenged with getting the hostage taker to release the captives and surrender themselves peaceful,” Saggar said. “The students certainly did not make it easy on our negotiators and this provided an excellent training opportunity.”

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