Board Game: An Effective Way for Novice Trainees to Learn Incident Command System


  • Wei-kuo Chou Department of Emergency Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan



disaster medicine, board game, incident command system, disaster medical assurance team


The incident command system (ICS) is widely used in disaster management, but it is hard for novice learners to apply what they learn in actual practice. Considering these aspects, we developed a board game for novice learners to learn ICS and conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the board game method compared with that of traditional lectures.

Two sessions of ICS training were conducted using only board games and lectures for each session. In the board game session, the participants played the board game for 1.5 hours without receiving any teaching. The game participants played as disaster response teams based on ICS principles. In the lecture session, a didactic lecture on ICS concepts and their applications in disaster medical assistance team (DMAT) work was taught for 1.5 hours by a disaster medicine expert. Before and after each session, a test comprising 20 multiple-choice questions (5 points for each question) was conducted. In the test, participants were evaluated on how to apply the ICS principle to DMAT work. Participants who had not previously received any disaster medicine education were defined as novice learners and were included to compare the learning effects of the two methods. A paired t-test was used to compare the results within each group, and an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare the results between the two groups.

The study included 17 participants in the board game group and 25 participants in the lecture group. The mean test score was significantly higher after the game and the lecture (pre-game score = 56 versus post-game score = 75, p-value = .001; pre-lecture score = 58 versus post-lecture score = 74, p-value = .002). No significant difference was found in the score improvement between the two groups (p-value = .6). Hence, we can concluded that learning ICS through board games was as effective as using the traditional lecture method for novice disaster medicine trainees. The board game is an useful tool of disaster medicine education.