New technology that promises to revolutionize training in the medical field by combining instruction with virtual reality was demonstrated at Wright State University’s National Center for Medical Readiness.“This marks the beginning of a unique collaboration between academic centers, industry, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the National Center for Medical Readiness,” said Dr. Pamela J. Boyers, executive director of the UT Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center. “Working together in this manner gives Ohio the opportunity to lead the field in improving the outcomes of medical care.”
The demonstration took place March 27 at Calamityville, a 52-acre disaster training zone with concrete passageway-filled buildings, silos, tunnels, ponds, cliffs and wooded areas. It prepares civilian and military medical communities to work with traditional disaster responders and provides the nation with a more holistic approach to finding patients, offering initial care and safely evacuating them from disaster environments.
The weeklong training session dubbed “Fortis Angel” included pararescue jumpers from the Kentucky Air National Guard.
The exercise scenario involved rescuing and treating 13 patients injured in a roadside-bomb attack on a caravan of Drug Enforcement Agency agents in South America. There were amputations, collapsed lungs and other simulated injuries.
Boyers said simulation technicians and emergency department physicians from UT took part in the exercise, helping evaluate performance. She said it all translates into improving medical care.
“We are really, really pushing the limits of technology,” she said. “It’s very exciting.”
The training exercise was the culmination of a collaborative effort by UT, the Wright State Research Institute, the National Center for Medical Readiness, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Cubic Defense Applications, Aptima, CAE Healthcare, Lumir Research Institute, Real Time Immersive Inc., Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and the Black River Systems Co.
This team is creating the next generation of medical education and training technologies and techniques for physicians, nurses, first responders, military personnel and others in the medical field.
Kristen Barrera, program manager in the warfighter readiness research division of the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson, said the technology can be used in operations or training to create a performance archive that will increase the readiness of responders.
“Over the past several years, we’ve brought that capability here to the National Center for Medical Readiness,” she said. “Today is really the culmination.”
During the exercise, cameras and microphones captured the action. The pararescuers wore bioharnesses that monitored their vital signs, including heart and respiratory rates. All of the information and simulation streamed into a command center, where it was beamed to instructors from a wall of monitors and computer screens.
John Jannazo, senior director at Cubic, said the technology expands the ability to bring all of the players and subject-matter expertise into a scenario.
“What we’ve built here is a stadium, a playing venue,” Jannazo said. “And whatever is not there in real time will be there virtually. So we’re taking it even beyond the batting averages or how many field goals were made. Now we’re adding coaching right into the event.”
Jim Gruenberg, deputy director of the National Center for Medical Readiness, said the center is providing the landscape, the expertise and the high-fidelity realism that enables researchers, testers and corporations to do important work for the nation.
“This really illustrates how such a place as this can be a real magnet in this community, to bring people to Wright State University, bring people to the region,” he said.