USA (Ohio State University) Ohio State doctors using virtual reality to provide disaster response training to first responders

Ohio State University doctors are using virtual reality technology to provide disaster response training to first responders in central Ohio.

This week, more than 100 first responders from Delaware County Emergency Medical Services will wear headsets to respond to a simulated subway station bombing.

“The learners feel like they’re on the subway platform,” said Dr. Nicholas Kman, an OSU clinical professor of emergency medicine. “They feel like there’s urgency to take care of the patients, and it allows them to apply the triage algorithm under stress, which is a hard thing to do otherwise, either with a textbook or some other type of learning method.”

Kman says the trainees can apply a virtual tourniquet and open an airway, through the headset. “In virtual reality, the learner has to walk from victim to victim and do an assessment of how sick that patient is and what treatment they need.” said Kman. “They have a triage kit that, a medical bag that they can open up.”

The virtual reality training system was developed with a five-year $1.8 million federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

OSU faculty from the College of Medicine, Advanced Computing Center for Art and Design (ACCAD), computer sciences and engineering, and linguistics collaborated on the project.

Trainees will receive an evaluation on how they assess patients and treat their injuries. “It spits out a report that tells the learner,” says Kman. “Did you categorize the patients the right way? Did you apply the right life-saving treatment? Did you ask the right questions? Did you check for a pulse? Did you count respirations? The system actually is able to quantify all those things,” Kman said.

Kman says an OSU team will share the virtual reality disaster response training at a national EMS conference in Tampa, Florida in January.