OKLAHOMA CITY, January 27, 2021

EMSA medic Julian Goana tests the VR equipment.

– This month, EMSA has begun to test new virtual reality equipment that allows EMSA academy recruits the opportunity to experience a trauma scene without leaving their academy classroom. The goal of this VR training is to improve EMSA team members’ critical thinking skills in a safe environment.

EMSA’s late Division Chief – Outreach Clinical / Special Operations Alf Zeilinger spearheaded the arrival of VR training at EMSA. He was a strong advocate for VR, knowing it would allow instructors to use simulations and events that are impossible to recreate in the classroom setting in a controlled, safe, and repeatable way. Instructors can debrief medics after the training and point out specific learning points using specific moments and interventions from their VR experience.

During the VR training, medics move and observe in a dedicated space similar to what they would encounter on scene of a critical medical emergency. The VR also utilizes changes in weather, noise level, and time of day to simulate real world conditions medics will encounter when working. The ambulances in the VR also match EMSA ambulances in layout and design adding an additional level of immersion.

This VR training focuses on situational awareness and thought processes – not learning to do a skill, rather the flow of the patient care in an immersive environment. These trainings offer custom written scenarios to match what the EMSA field providers encounter in Oklahoma City and surrounding communities each day.

While the VR training EMSA is still in the testing and development phase, the early results are promising. While currently being tested by EMSA academy recruits, eventually all EMSA team members who care for patients will utilize VR in their continuing education. Fellow first responders in the EMSA system, fire departments and police departments, will be involved in the VR training as well as federal agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshalls.