Case Study:  RWE Pembroke Power Station

Our work the RWE Npower Power Station in Pembrokeshire demonstrates the opportunities which exist in building relationships with clients and developing training around their needs rather than the market dominance of off-the-shelf training.



RWE Pembroke Power Station is the latest addition to the well-established Energy Sector in Pembrokeshire.  The Station came on-line in September 2012 making it one of the newest, most efficient and largest Power Station in the UK.   

Rather than aiming to meet minimum Health & Safety legislative requirements, the new management took the ambitious decision to put every single employee through a one-day First Aid course and a one-day Health and Safety course (in addition to role-specific training).

Despite exceeding their responsibilities there was something just not quite right; employees felt neither empowered nor competent in their training.



Real First Aid was one of the businesses contacted during the tendering process to resolve the issues of employee engagement and competence.  Rather than attempting to sell on the basis of price or accreditation we explained our position on practical, hands-on training tailored to the candidates working environment and on learning by doing rather than awarding certification based upon attendance.  Doing things differently.

Rather than taking our word for it RWE sent two of their staff to observe one of our courses:  And not managers or Health & Safety Reps, but regular employees...which is where Pembroke began to demonstrate that they too wanted to do things differently.

The culture at Pembroke Power Station is one of Safety and stakeholder-engagement.  It is very easy to pay lip service to this but at Pembroke it is applied rigorously.

After receiving the green-light a series of conversation took place over several months between Real First Aid and Pembroke's working party which consisted of:

  • Learning & Development Advisor - Tracey Bryant
  • Lead Safety Engineer - Jason Morse
  • First Aid Champion - Leigh Duffy

What was noticeable about this 'round table' was the parity that each person was afforded.

While most large organisations have a Training Manager, Tracey's role includes providing bespoke training for individuals and she welcomes suggestions; RWE is unusual in this respect, as they will consider supporting training based upon what an individual wants, rather than solely on what the company needs or is compelled to provide. RWE recognise the value of Continuing Professional Development.

Jason is the Technical Expert who brings subject-specific expertise and a deeper understanding of the operations of the plant and as such, together with Leigh, has the knowledge to help to develop realistic scenarios .

Leigh, the First Aid Champion, is one of over 30 Shift Operators who represents the views and needs of the employees.  With Jason's technical expertise and Tracey's academic background, Leigh's ground-truth perspective often drove the discussions, providing an essential insight into what was required and what would or wouldn’t work

After several versions of 'The Plan' were tinkered with, amended or rejected the result was something rarely seen in commercial training.


The Plan

Over a 12 month period the team developed a long term, progressive training program for those who not just needed to attend but those who wanted to.  A plan not for compliance but for development.

Formal Learning

Refresher training
All staff previously trained to FAW received a refresher with the aim of limiting skill-fade and also bringing their training in line with our approach to ensure continuity of training with all staff.

First Aid at Work
Despite exceeding their legislative requirements regarding the number of First Aiders the plant has on site at any one time, training has been offered to those who are interested on the premise that it is far better to train someone who is intrinsically motivated rather than because someone has been told to do it.

Advanced Skills
For those who have been refreshed or recently trained, 1-Day training sessions are distributed throughout the year to build on their FAW training with additional skills, including

  • Airway Management
  • Supplemental Oxygen
  • Trauma Management

By drip-feeding the skills training throughout the year Pembroke was able to develop the competencies of their First Aiders to the level of First Person on Scene without the one-off cost or the need to release their staff for five days at a time.

Spreading the training throughout the year also alleviates skill-fade, maintains interest and reinforces the perspective of safety training being at the core of operations, rather than a three-yearly box ticking exercise.

Informal Learning

A series of open workshops are made available to all staff, regardless of whether they are a nominated First Aider or not.

Workshop sessions are anywhere between 45 minutes and half a day, sometimes delivered during a lunch break.  Some topics are work-place specific while some are simply for the wider benefit.  Topics have included:

  • Heart Attack & Stroke
  • Sports First Aid
  • First Aid for Children

Who would choose to give up their time to attend a First Aid course?   A surprising amount it appeared.  The workshops were offered to all staff, without obligation or with any expectation in return.  The First Aid for Children workshop was hugely popular and a smart business move for the Station, offering something for nothing and demonstrating their interest in not just in their employees' work life but also their home life.

Concentrating on scenario training and casualty simulation and working closely with the Lead Safety Engineer we were able to choreograph challenging scenarios which tested the employees First Aid abilities and the Incident Management Plan of the site.

Video and Audio footage of the incident and the actions within the control room were recorded for post-scenario review and as a resource that can be used for future  training sessions.

Following the exercise, a debrief sought opinions from all parties; the First Aider, the casualty, the Control Room and the Management Team to provide additional information that can be used in review of the Incident Management Plan

If something didn't work - why not?  Sometimes it is not the strategists who create the best solutions but those 'on the ground' who were there.


The End Result

Starting with a simple one-day refresher course, Pembroke Power Station have a group of not only competent but also confident First Aiders;

  • confident that their abilities are fit for purpose in the environment they work in because they have been trained and tested in that environment
  • confident that their training was directed by their needs, rather than distant legislative requirements
  • confident that their role is part of a larger Incident Management Plan

In total 33 staff members have received accredited First Aid training at a variety of levels and many more have been exposed to informal learning through the workshops and safety demonstrations.

The cost of the Formal Learning elements equated to £6.68 per person per day.  The Informal Learning elements which reinforced not only the learning objectives but also the appreciation of safety as a culture rather than a task, represented less than 15% of the overall cost. 


The world is not short of Training Providers and for many employers off-the-shelf training is a quick and cost effective solution.

If you want an effective, practical and relevant solution there are ways of doing things differently which do not necessary involve more cost, just a willingness to do things differently.  The “bottom line” is improved not only by cutting costs, but also by reducing losses. That is what practical and relevant training achieves.