Virtual Training System Helps Medical Personnel Prepare for the Worst

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Charles River Analytics’ virtual training system for mass casualty events, EFECTIVE, is currently at the advanced prototype level. Benjamin Bauchwitz, a lead scientist on the effort, will be demoing the prototype this month, the first in a series of demos during which he plans to gather feedback from potential partners and collaborators.

Since 2017, Charles River scientists and engineers have been developing the virtual training system, which provides practice for medical personnel and their teammates who respond to mass casualty events.

The training is geared toward events that take place in austere, far-forward, and access-denied environments, where conditions are especially challenging—there may not be enough supplies available to save current casualties, or enemy fire may make evacuation impossible. It enables a modern, gamified experience that immerses medical and other personnel within realistic exercises in virtual environments that are accessible from anywhere via their computers, virtual reality (VR) headsets, and phones. The system lets each type of personnel train in different modules tailored to their specific roles and skills.

EFECTIVE currently has three main training modes (additional modes are under development. It is implemented in the Unity game engine and C#, which allow it to run on a diverse set of hardware platforms.

Peter Weyhrauch, VP, Human-Computer Intelligent Systems, said: “EFECTIVE is unique because it combines our ability to build these realistic game environments with our ability to understand a complex set of skills from an educational point of view.” Weyhrauch continued, “on top of everything, we apply our ‘secret sauce’— we use AI analytics and algorithms to adapt the training to the individual trainee and make sure it delivers maximum learning gains in the minimum time… something that’s especially important for those who have to take the training while still performing their jobs.”

Bauchwitz and Charles River staff involved numerous medical specialists to guide the development of the system and make sure it will meet the needs of its end users. These specialists include John Broach, Emergency Physician at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center; Christopher Garrison, a professor in the College of Nursing at the Pennsylvania State University; retired Amy Major Pete Lancette, an Emergency Department Nurse who led Forward Surgical Teams while deployed in Afghanistan; and retired Air Force Col. Diane Fletcher, Assistant Chief Nurse at the Tallahassee Veterans’ Affairs Outpatient Clinic and experienced Air Force nursing leader.

With their help, Bauchwitz and his team systematically analyzed the specialized skills that mass casualty responders need to successfully handle an event. This analysis was recently described in a paper for the Virtual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (vIITSEC), and laid the groundwork for the system prototype, which intelligently delivers the specific training experiences needed to develop target skills.

What was discussed during vIITSEC this year? Find out in  vIITSEC - An Appropriate, Virtual Capstone to 2020.

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