CommLab delivers exceptional training

The CommLab at the Helicopter Flight Training Center in Shreveport, Louisiana is drawing attendees from across the country. Survival Flight, the critical care transport program of the University of Michigan Health System, recently sent two communication specialists to the course. Tracey Lendzion and Kelly Keiser say they did not know what to expect when preparing to enter the CommLab, but that the experience was definitely worthwhile.

“This is the first time anyone has done this. It seems strange to say it exceeded my expectations, because I didn’t know what to expect,” says Tracey. “But I do feel like the experience was beyond any of my preconceived notions.”

The CommLab at the Helicopter Flight Training Center is a first of its kind training experience for seasoned communication specialists. Attendees receive training on the same software they use in their respective communication centers, communicate with pilots who are simultaneously training in a simulator, and are taught by veteran communicators from top programs across the country.

Tracey has six years of flight following experience. Although she has experienced a multitude of scenarios during her time in a communication center, she says she still took a lot away from the course. “There are some things that you take at face value when communicating with pilots and first responders, but I learned additional questions to ask to make sure I have the most accurate, detailed information possible. That says a lot.”

For Kelly, a communication specialist with four years of experience, the course put everything in perspective. “We spend a lot of time in the Comm Center, so to come to a training course like this and really see the bigger picture of how we are all working toward the same goal is only going to make me better.”

They also noted the advantage of learning new tools outside of the communication center. “There is a lot of stress involved in learning something new in a real-life situation when time is of the essence,” said Tracey. “Learning a new tool or technique at the CommLab takes the stress out of it, and when we face it at work, we can breathe easier knowing we have encountered this before.”

The CommLab is made possible through a partnership with industry vendors Flight Vector, Golden Hour, HSI, Xybix and Zoll. A $349 course fee includes all course materials and lunch for two days. Courses are held in Shreveport, Louisiana and can accommodate eight participants.