Let’s say you’ve just attended a first aid training course, taken some notes and hopefully even passed the obligatory test at the end of the day. You feel that if something were to happen right now, shortly after the course, you’d be well prepared to deal with any first aid emergencies. But what if an emergency happened 6 or 12 months after the course, would you still know what to do?

The answer is most likely – no.

Before we go into specific tips to counteract memory loss, let’s take a quick look at the science behind human memory. The below graphic shows The Forgetting Curve – a concept initially created by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the late 19th century. It shows that only 50% of your memory is retained after 24 hours, with only about 10% remaining after a week.

He also demonstrated that the stronger the memories are, the longer they will get retained.

The forgetting curve

To help counteract the forgetting curve and to help you retain your knowledge for as long as possible, we have rounded up a few simple tips:

Practical application and repetition:

During your course you will have had the opportunity to apply the skills you’ve just learned in a hands-on manner – such as performing CPR, lifting a heavy box correctly or putting out a fire using a fire safety blanket. Performing the action or the skill you have just learned is a proven way to further enhance your learning of it, so why not show the actions to your family or colleagues after the training course? The repeated actions not only mean that it will become easier the more you do it, but by becoming the ‘teacher’ yourself you are further being tested on your knowledge which helps ingrain them as a long-term memory.

Relate it to everyday situations:

When you learn something new, your brain automatically refers to situations you have encountered in the past. So, taking this to the next level means making an effort to look for a hypothetical scenario where you might use the newly learnt skills. For example, you might see a colleague in the office using a ladder and you could think about what to do if he/she fell off the ladder. Thinking through the steps involved means you’re testing your knowledge which will in turn lead to your memory being re-jigged.

Regular refreshers:

The HSE currently recommend refresher courses every 3 years for most training courses, however companies are encouraged to allow self-directed revision for those staff that have completed the training.

For optimum results why not make time to refer back to your handbook every 6 months or so to re-jig your memory?

Here at Alpha, we use various tools in our training courses, all designed to help you retain your knowledge, some of which are:

  • Quiz cards for a fun quiz at the end of the training – it can get quite competitive!
  • A free hand book which you can refer to at any time after the course
  • Small groups with hands on training
  • Interesting mix of training methods

If you would like to find out more about our Health & Safety training courses please call us on 01903 871381 or email us info@alphahealthandsafety.com.