An Edith Cowan University research project is using Virtual Reality technology to help paramedics deal with natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
Exposure to mass-casualty simulation using a VR platform allows students to hone their skills in the assessment and successful triage of casualties
The Virtual Reality Mass Casualty Triage Simulator, developed by a team of ECU researchers, is an innovative educational application that provides high fidelity training to paramedics and tertiary paramedical science students in relation to mass casualty incidents (MCIs).
MCIs can result from natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes or fire, or man-made catastrophes such as bus or plane crashes or terrorist attacks. Such events are often devastating for the patients involved, as well as their families and the wider community.
ECU lead researcher Dr Brennen Mills said emergency personnel must be optimally trained to respond to mass casualty incidents. However, the infrequent nature of MCIs limits their amount of exposure.
“Many are ill-equipped to deal with the sheer number of casualties and the allocation of resources when they occur.
“It’s therefore important to provide paramedics with the appropriate training and preparation to equip them with the skills they need to ensure an effective and safe response,” Dr Mills said.
“Exposure to mass-casualty simulation using a VR platform allows students to hone their skills in the assessment and successful triage of casualties, better preparing them for a MCI live response.”
How it works
The VR training simulation involves full body motion capture character animations that are produced by trained actors
The VR simulator uses full-body motion capture, highly detailed character models and realistic environments to provide an engaging and immersive experiential learning opportunity.
Interaction with the characters involves assessment of the character’s physical appearance and verbal cues, as well as assessing vital signs.
ECU Biomechanist Dr Luke Hopper said few 3D software simulations for Paramedicine exist, and even fewer for a VR platform.
“The VR training simulation involves full body motion capture character animations that are produced by trained actors. It involves input from expert paramedics providing real world authenticity to ensure the simulation is accurate, reliable and relevant,” Dr Hopper said.
VR Simulator in the news
This news item was broadcast by Perth’s Channel 9 in 2019. The report covers a range of VR solutions being developed in Australia, beginning with the research being done at ECU by Dr Brennen Mills and his team.
A winning idea
The concept for the virtual reality simulation was initially developed as an alternative education and training solution for students.
“It quickly became evident that the simulation not only had the capacity to benefit Paramedical Science students, but also service organisations involved in disaster management and response such as ambulance organisations, fire and emergency services and the Australian Defence Force,” Dr Hopper said.
The Virtual Reality Mass Casualty Triage Simulator won the Skills Transformation (large teams) category at the 2019 ACS Digital Disruptor Awards. It was also recognised at the 2019 Incite Awards.