This VR simulation is supporting the future training of medics in the UK Armed Forces.
When it comes to preparing army medics for the working conditions of a warzone, it’s difficult to recreate the cramped conditions and stress of battle inside a moving Chinook helicopter on its way to evacuate a critically wounded solider to a field hospital.
That’s why a team of researchers have designed a VR simulation to help do just that — assist in the training of the UK Armed Forces’ Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) in responding to battlefield incidents while flying high above the ground.
The new VR simulator designed by a team at the University of Birmingham’s Human Interface Technology (HIT) brings together a VR headset, hand-tracking gloves, a lifelike dummy and an inflatable enclosure to better prepare medics for the conditions they may face in the field.
In a real-life scenario when resuscitating or stabilizing a soldier, medics struggle with operating on a bumpy flight while pilots dodge small arms fire from the ground below. That’s where the inflatable enclosure comes in — imitating the bumpy movement of the helicopter while administering first aid to a dummy.
Emergency nurses, paramedics, and other medical consultants can safely train in this realistic virtual environment, where no VR details are overlooked. The environment outside the helicopter windows was captured by drones flying over a national park in England and Boeing helped provide sound effects for the inside of the helicopter cabin.
The research team also made sure the virtual human body had a physical counterpart, with TraumaFX delivering their Simbodie, an incredibly detailed human male model capable of being configured to represent a wide range of injuries, including missing limbs, bullet wounds and lacerations.
Speaking with the Telegraph, Professor Col Peter Mahoney, Consultant Anaesthetist at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine said: “The intent behind this ground-breaking research project is for us to exploit cutting edge technologies and thinking to offer Defence Medical Services an agile and cost effective training option for future deployments.”
Professor Bob Stone, Human Interface Technology (HIT) team director from the University of Birmingham added, “Although the current virtual cabin is nowhere near as dynamic as the real operational context, it is more than adequate for the purposes of demonstrating the proof of concept.”
Considering current trainees must visit a base that might not be centrally located to them, having a VR simulator that can be packed up and deployed quickly and effectively to support training of such a vital team could make this one VR experience that will actually save lives.
Image Credit: University of Birmingham