ECU School of Medical and Health Sciences Using VR for Mass Casualty Training

VRFocus has reported on a number of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences designed to train medical professionals in the latest techniques. While many of these have been for nurses or doctors, there’s been very few when it comes to those first on a scene, paramedics. So Edith Cowan University (ECU) researchers teamed up with VR production company Virtual Guest to create an immersive experience which simulates a mass casualty event.

ECU ParamedicVR

Mass casualty events can range from terrorist attacks to natural disasters, and when you’re there first time is critical to saving lives.

When it comes to training for mass casualty events the two traditional methods involve seminars or live simulations. “Both of these approaches have their drawbacks,” said ECU School of Medical and Health Sciences researcher Dr Brennen Mills in a blog posting. “It’s impossible to provide a realistic experience of responding to a mass casualty event in a classroom. While live simulations give a more authentic learning experience, they require a significant amount of resources to do, including multiple actors, various settings, patient moulage (wound make-up) and substantial coordination of personnel.”

The VR training experience ECU has been developing involves using real world actors in a 360-environment with digital overlays of the tasks need to be performed. Trainees use a HTC Vive headset and its motion controllers to examine and interact with the scene.

“Mass casualty events are chaotic and confronting. The focus of paramedics who first arrive at the scene won’t be to treat patients, but to gauge the urgency of each wounded person to decide the order of treatment when more resources arrive,” continued Mills.

ECU ParamedicVR 2

All the research is being funded through an $85,000 ECU Industry Collaboration grant in partnership with Virtual Guest.  “Unlike live simulations where there are variables that can’t be controlled, such as the actors’ performances, with a VR experience we can ensure that each student receives the exact same experience,” commented Virtual Guest founder and CEO Brandon D’Silva.

“We hope to be able to show that using VR simulations can help better prepare students to respond to mass casualty events,” adds Mills. For the latest developments and use cases of VR, keep reading VRFocus.