Training is inherently risky—but simulator training can significantly reduce that risk.
In a 2018 report, lawmakers on the House Armed Service Committee noted that in 2017 nearly four times as many military personnel died in training accidents as were killed in combat. These were soldiers lost in aviation mishaps, botched ship maneuvers, and vehicle crashes and fires. And this isn’t a one-time fluke: The armed forces have seen this trend for years, with military training injuries increasing, even as we pull back battlefield deployments.
And this isn’t isolated to military training. The U. S. Fire Administration tracks on-duty U.S. firefighter injuries and fatalities—including those that happen during training. They’ve documented 3,340 on-duty firefighter deaths since 1990. Of those 3,340 deaths, roughly 252 (or about 10 per year) occurred during training exercises.
These training injuries highlight an obvious advantage that comes with increased simulator training: Decreased risk of injuries. (In addition to the advantage of creating the opportunity to train on much more complex and dangerous tasks, such as clearing IEDs from roadways, executing complex flight maneuvers, and engaging in high-speed pursuit driving.
But shifting a larger portion of your training exercises to the simulator can also bring a tidy—and recurring—cost savings.
Simulator Training: Saving Time, Saving Money, Improving Readiness
As Lt. Tim Jones (District of Columbia Fire Department) noted after they began using simulator training, “The more I can do inside on a simulator the less I have to do outside and burn fuel. Having the simulators helps make us more green because it saves about 50 gallons of diesel fuel per day, and it saves me two days per rookie class.” Minimizing fuel consumption was just one item in a laundry list of cost savings. Other cost savings accrued from reduced wear and tear on fire fighting apparatus and vehicles, reduced overtime costs for personnel in driver training classes, and reduced scheduling conflicts over course time and training ground usage.
The U.S. air force has reaped similar cost savings. In just one example, they found that shifting to using modern simulator training for some flight exercises reduced costs by a factor of 10 to 15. Even a task as mundane—and low risk—as de-icing can enjoy big wins through simulator training.
LYNX Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority saw a decrease of 69.23% in accidents for those Operators trained on a bus driver training simulator.