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Virtual reality training for rescuers may save your life in a crisis

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
June 4, 2014
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Miguel Rojo/AFP/Getty Images

While some soldiers have virtual reality training to familiarize themselves with the battlefield, paramedics and other rescuers are out of luck; their first crisis is frequently all too real. Intelligent Decisions isn't happy with that lack of preparation, so it's developing a VR system that gives first responders a taste of what it's like to handle major emergencies. Its upcoming Medical Simulation thrusts trainees into chaotic situations like natural disasters and terrorist attacks, teaching these people to maintain focus and treat those who need the most help. The hardware can incorporate actors and mannequins into computer-generated scenes, and it will have sensors for blood pressure, heart rate and gaze to verify that crews are staying cool under pressure.

While Medical Simulation is built with civilian rescuers in mind, it should also be useful for military medics that have to get used to the heat of combat. It might also be used to treat patients far removed from immediate danger' Intelligent Decisions believes it could help with complicated surgery or veterans coping with post-traumatic stress. It will take about two years for Medical Simulation to enter service, but it could be cheap enough that even clinics can ready themselves for worst-case scenarios -- if calamity strikes, you may owe your life to someone who's had some VR practice.

[Image credit: Miguel Rojo/AFP/Getty Images]

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