Setting the gold standard

University of Alberta spin-off company, ProTraining, wins award for online mental health and de-escalation training course for first responders

TEC Edmonton and FoMD News staff - 26 October 2016

When there is an emergency call, first responders often find themselves thrusting into volatile situations that involve the public. Their choices in those key moments help determine the end result of the encounter-positive or negative. Helping defuse those situations is the foundation of ProTraining, a University of Alberta spin-off company that provides mental health education and training to emergency personnel. Now the company's important work is being recognized through an international award.

ProTraining has been honoured with a coveted Brandon Hall Group Gold Award for Excellence in the Learning Category (Best Advance in Custom Content). The prestigious awards program has been running for more than 20 years, and is often referred to as the 'Academy Awards' of the learning industry.

ProTraining developed the program to increase the skills of first responders to de-escalate potentially difficult situations, and to improve interactions with individuals who may have mental health issues.

The program is delivered via a combination of online and in-class training. The online course is the first step in the program, developed in partnership with Edmonton-based testing and training company Yardstick.

"Our online program is based on empirical peer-reviewed research on a new approach to police training. This was conducted over a multi-year period, and the research program led to significant decreases in the use of physical force by police. There were also multiple other benefits from this program," says Peter Silverstone, a professor and psychiatrist in the University of Alberta's Department of Psychiatry, and chair of the Advisory Board at ProTraining.

After the peer-reviewed training proved so successful, ProTraining was formed as a University of Alberta spin-off company with the help of TEC Edmonton and Yardstick. Its founders say the ProTraining course is now established as a world-leading online program and believe it can have an important role in the future training of emergency responders, such as police officers.

"Officers interacting with the public need specific skills to decrease the risk of negative outcomes. This online version offers a unique, engaging and interactive way to not only inform officers about useful skills, but also includes realistic video scenarios allowing them to practice these skills," says Yasmeen Krameddine, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and subject matter expert for this online course.

More information about the innovative program can be found at and the Canadian Police Knowledge Network.

Meet our partners in innovation:

ProTraining is a University of Alberta spin-off company created with the help of TEC Edmonton. ProTraining provides mental health and de-escalation training courses focusing on saving lives and preventing violent encounters in police interactions, using online and classroom training. Courses are developed in partnership with law enforcement, protective service officers, bus operators and security professionals in Canada, America, and European Police Organizations.

Brandon Hall Group is a Human Capital Management (HCM) research and advisory services firm that provides insights around key performance areas, including Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Management.

TEC Edmonton helps technology entrepreneurs accelerate their growth. In addition to being the commercialization agent for University of Alberta technologies, TEC Edmonton operates Greater Edmonton's largest accelerator for early stage technology companies, including both university spin-offs and companies from the broader community. TEC Edmonton provides client services in four broad areas: Business development, funding and finance, technology commercialization and entrepreneur development.