The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense for some time has partnered with the Directorate of Emergency Services fire department and its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel to help Aberdeen Proving Ground first responders accomplish their training needs. Most of the instruction has taken place in classrooms, but recent hands-on exercises were devised to put classroom learning to practical use. To accomplish this, the MRICD Chemical Casualty Care Division (CCCD) incorporated its Wide Angle Virtual Environment (WAVE) center to provide emergency medical response simulation training.
The WAVE room incorporates three-dimensional images projected on five vertical screens to immerse viewers in a virtual setting. Stereoscopic images are displayed on the screens with paired digital laser projectors while users wear lightweight stereoscopic glasses to view the scene. The 4,200 square-foot virtual space created by the WAVE allows trainees to interact with each other and real equipment.
For the EMS training, the CCCD staff arranged the WAVE room to resemble the aftermath of a bombing at a federal building. Images on the screens set the scene of a bombed interior; the floor in front of the screens was strewn with rubble and simulated casualties, and smoke permeated the room.
Three types of human patient simulators, or manikins, which are normally part of the division’s medical management and field management of chemical casualties training, were used as the casualties: photo-realistic manikins mimic different types of injured patients, another manikin is configured to allow for the administration of emergency medical procedures such as intubation and administration of intravenous treatments, and a 165-pound manikin provides a realistic model for rescue and extrication training.
“The four-hour training allowed for three evolutions—mild, moderate, and intense,” explains Daniel Boehm, CCCD’s field medical education specialists.
With each session APG emergency responders donned more protective gear and were put in a more immersive training environment. Between each session, Boehm continued, trainees assessed their performance and determined corrective measures to apply to the next session.
The learning experience provided by this “crawl, walk, run” tiered training was invaluable Michael Slayman, DES assistant chief of EMS stated in an email to MRICD Commander Col. Margery Hanfelt.
“Being able to run a rapid exercise (at this level of simulation), then reset and run another within minutes to correct deficiencies is a benefit that I have not seen in my 31 years of emergency service,” wrote Slayman.
Additionally, Slayman praised the between-session discussions.
“I have never seen the students so motivated to have a voice in the follow up scenarios. Excellent after actions have allowed each student the opportunity to explain what they believe would be an optional course of action. This has led to some excellent discussions…,” Slayman added.
Several iterations of the simulation training were conducted, and more training opportunities are planned.
By Cindy Kronman
Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense