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This method comes to us from Palmira Repsyte from Vilnius.  She has visited Roof of Fire! and wanted to give us something for the site.  This is an exercise on team work and communication and was used in the international training course for local youth leaders in Meise, Belgium.  The originator of the idea was our uncle Dirk.

drawing of screwy squirrel by Tex Avery (maybe a Captain Beefheart fan)


Material needed
Sleeping bags
Material for signs


Time 1 hour.
Participants were divided in two groups (10 persons in each group), according to their experience and skills, gender balance, countries, which they represent.

"You are two rescue teams. You have to be prepared every moment to go to rescue somebody. You can be called at any time for help. Now you have one hour (time of preparation depends on the tasks, which they have to fulfil during the preparation) to prepare. You have to prepare all the material, which is needed to find the injured person in the forest and rescue him (stretcher)(different kinds of the material has to be available). When you'll be on duty, you cannot speak. You have to create different ways of communication. Signs are allowed (it can be for example whistling)."

* The participants were aloud to speak, when they found the person in the forest, but to make the exercise more difficult, it’s possible not to speak during all of the exercise.

Start of exercise

"Phonecall" Instruction:
"A group of people were looking for mushrooms in the forest and there was a storm. Two people were lost in the forest. One of them fell down and is unconscious. It might be, that his ribs are broken and he has internal bleeding. The second person had an accident too:  a tree fell down on him. His legs are broken and he is bleeding severely. First, the rescue team has to find the first injured person. White signs with blue triangles will lead to him. The second team has to find the second injured person. White signs with the red circles will lead to him (you can mark with the signs the way back to make it more difficult). You have to find these people and bring them to the hospital. You have one hour to bring these people to the hospital; otherwise they will "die".

Two groups leave at the same time. Two different codes were used, which were marked with signs from white material with different colours (blue and red). These were placed in certain places, where obviously they would not be found easily. The teams had to share each other’s functions, implementing strategy and sometimes even splitting up (getting skills how to be a team, working separately and doing different functions).

The people, who were acting as the patients (experienced participants, selected by the team with the purpose, that they could contribute during the evaluation) couldn’t talk, they were only allowed to make silent sounds. When a team found the patient, they had to take him to the hospital. They had to make a type of stretcher with the material, which they brought and which they could find in the forest. One team member was leading person acting as a patient to the place in the forest, where the team supposed to find him, because of safety reasons.

* To make the exercise more difficult, it’s possible to but a bottle of water in between the legs of the patient. Team is getting a little bottle of water as an "injection". They can put a cap on the bottle, if they are not carrying the patient  properly.

During preparation and during the exercise each group had two observers - trainers to observe the team. The tasks to observe are:
 - to care about safety of participants
 - remind participants about instructions
 - observe the procedures of the teams' work and communication


Time: half an hour.

Guidelines for evaluation

- what was the goal for the team?
- who was making strategy and decisions, and did all the participants take part in it?
- was the strategy good and efficient for the team?
- did they work as a team, what was the atmosphere?
- which where those moments, which helped or did not help the team?
- were all the team involved in the work and felt, that they were part of the group?

- what kind of difficulties did they have?
- what channels of communication were used?
- what are the main principles of communication?

During the evaluation, the observers and people, acting as a patients were saying, what they noticed during this exercise and even reflected about the participants’ approach to the situation.

* Some remarks about the experience of the implementation of this method. We ran the exercise at night.  We had some complaints from the participants, that this method was not safe enough.  (You have to know that during one previous exercise in the course, a girl broke her leg by jumping over a rope and this created some tension among the participants afterwards). The team cleaned the way to the patients and back and marked this way with the signs because of safety reasons. Perhaps we could do this exercise during the day. It would be more safe then. We realised, that to have a mobile phone is very useful during the exercise: if something happens it’s possible to call for help.

Thank you Palmira for sharing this method with us!

Keep the Roof on fire!