Exercise for (almost) all senses
If you ask the participants of an exercise what is most important to them for a successful exercise, the answer is very often: "It should be as realistic as possible". But what does realistic actually mean here and how can we achieve this goal? This can be illustrated by means of a fire-fighting exercise.
Here it is not enough to tell the attack squad: "Imagine that there is a fire in this room". Because the idea of fire is different for each participant, based on their own experiences. So the assumption of the situation (size, type, position of the fire in the room) automatically differs for the participant from that of the trainer. As a result, the approach of the squad can greatly differ from the "desired" approach of the trainer.
Therefore the exercise position should be clearly visible for all participants. This of course requires some preparation. It is also important that all senses of the participants are addressed.
To stay with the example of fire fighting in an indoor situation it is not necessary to light a real fire in a room, but exactly this impression should be achieved by stimulating the corresponding senses. The more senses are addressed, the greater the acceptance that the situation is real.
The optical impression of the fire can be represented very realistically with some preparation and practice by a fog machine and yellow-orange light. A mistake, which often occurs here, is the complete smoke (fogging) of a dark room. It is much better to produce the smoke point-wise with a vertical flow direction and to illuminate it with the coloured lighting.
We often underestimate the use or lack of the right tones. The described fire loses credibility if only the hissing of the fog machine can be heard. Therefore the exercise designer should also give the fire the right sound. This can be achieved by using appropriate sound files and a PA System.
The smell also plays a role in the perception during the exercise. For example, a fire can also be simulated by using an appropriate spray for the nose.
Of course not all senses can be stimulated during an exercise. The "feeling" of the fire - in other words the heat - is difficult to simulate. By paying attention to the other points, however, the exercise designer already achieves a significantly increased acceptance of the participants to immerse themselves in the situation. The actors behave more like in a real mission and the motivation is significantly higher.
You can find the appropriate articles for fire simulation here.