Skilled role players are essential to conduct a realistic exercise and to meet the exercise’s objectives. The purpose of the role-play is to make participants perceive the exercise as realistic. Role players contribute to a practical learning experience. Examples of different roles could be: Injured, un-injured, spectators, employees, next of kin, witnesses, victims, perpetrators, hostages, public figures, media etc.

Role-play director
The person responsible for role-play is appointed early in the planning process to ensure that he or she has an extensive knowledge about the scenario, exercise objectives and script. Based on this, the number, composition and logistics concerning role players can be decided.

How to create a credible role-play that promotes learning?
The ambulance service or others with competence in emergency medicine are usually in charge of planning the physical injuries of the victims and making the injury cards. It is less clear who is going to instruct the role players who are not playing a physically injured person. Professionals with competence in psychological crisis reactions, psychological first aid in catastrophes and appropriate knowledge about role-play should be consulted.

Safe and appropriate execution
The role players have a large influence on how the exercise progresses. It is important that their actions are coordinated to make the scenario credible. The instructor can regulate the role-play throughout the exercise following agreed rules. Intensity can be scaled up or down to give participants a realistic challenge.