Need Better Morale in the Workplace? Simulate a Plane Crash


The building’s crown jewel is a Modular Egress Training Simulator, a plastic and metal craft that can be arranged to resemble the cockpit of almost any helicopter or small plane on the market. A purpose-built crane lifts it up and lowers it into the pool. Other equipment in the cavernous space can replicate the downwash from rescue helicopters, and generate rain, darkness, 120-mile-per-hour winds, smoke and fire.

During a preliminary tour, Ms. Woods saw the simulator for the first time. “I looked at it and I realized it would start filling up,” she said. “I’m a lifeguard, I surf, so I shouldn’t be scared of this but personally, water deaths are my least favorite deaths.” In high school, Ms. Woods read Sebastian Junger’s “Perfect Storm,” about the sinking of a fishing boat, and, ever since she’s retained a visceral image of drowning.

The instructor talked to the class about teamwork, leadership goals and safety procedures for the activities ahead. After a lunch of pizza, the students walked eagerly to the pool deck. Everyone wore flight suits, water shoes and helmets. It was dark and foggy. AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blared and a disco ball lit the room. “All we need is a roller rink,” one of the personal trainers joked.

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