How VR Is Being Used To Prepare For Mass Casualty Events

Immersive technology is for more than just gaming.

Researchers based out of the Ohio State University College of Medicine have created a disaster response training program that uses VR technology to prepare first responders for various mass casualty emergencies, according to an official release.

Developed in collaboration with the Ohio State University Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design, the program immerses users in an underground subway complex after a bomb detonation has resulted in a number of severe casualties. Trainers can customize the program to change the number of victims and the injuries they’ve sustained as well as various environmental factors, such as smoke and noise, to provide a more challenging experience.

According to the research team, the program can effectively train a first responder SALT (sort, assess, life-saving interventions, treatment and/or transport) Triage, a standardized triage method developed in collaboration with the CDC. After completing the training program, users are immediately provided with a real-time assessment detailing their overall performance.

“It’s very important for first responders, law enforcement, and physicians to be able to go into a scene, do hemorrhage control, and triage victims to determine who needs medical care first,” said Dr. Nicholas Kman, professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State College of Medicine, in an official release. “Our high-fidelity program is designed to look very realistic, and once you put that headset on you are immersed into a scenario where you can move around, interact with victims, and make life-saving decisions.”

“Our virtual reality platform allows us to make an unlimited number of scenarios with an unlimited number of victims,” he added. “We can run learners through as many as times as it takes for them to get good at this process.”

Credit: Ohio State University College of Medicine

“We want to train our EMS clinicians to function at an optimal level in high-risk and high-stress environments,” said Dr. Ashish Panchal, professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State College of Medicine and medical director of Delaware County EMS. “Virtual reality gives us a safe way to optimize training so our professionals are prepared and can confront these challenges the best they possibly can.”

For more information check out the full press release here.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen immersive technology used for emergency services training. Back in 2020 we talked about police officers in one department having begun using VR technology as part of their de-escalation training. Another company has developed a VR training program designed to teach proper COVID-19 preparedness and prevention.

Feature Image Credit: Ohio State University College of Medicine

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