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A virtual world to help paramedics hone their skills

November 6, 2015 | in Training

Ambulance Victoria paramedics can now be put through their paces at the scene of a virtual fire with dozens of patients without the need for a classroom or real-life disaster.

A new Virtual Paramedic program has been launched, providing a realistic and real-time scenario of a factory fire and grass fire.

AV has worked closely with simulation company CAE Australia and its subcontractor E-Semble to also develop bus crash scenarios in rural and metropolitan settings.

Manager of Emergency Management, Justin Dunlop, is one of those behind the program and says it gives paramedics the chance to think about what they would do if they were first to arrive at an unfolding disaster.

‘We have made it as realistic as possible. There are 40 patients in this scenario and their injuries are based on those we have treated at similar scenes in the past,’ Mr Dunlop said.

‘Paramedics have to decide how best to triage the least injured from those who are critically injured. They have to relay back to our communications centre how many people are injured and what level of back up is required while also monitoring the health of fire fighters.

‘In the past, we have held mass casualty simulation exercises in a room with a whiteboard and magnets. These Virtual Paramedic programs are much more effective because our workforce is spread across the state and works in shifts.

‘We can tell from the system that paramedics have been able to jump on to a computer at branch when not on a case, particularly overnight, and spend time working through a scenario.

‘This means we can train more people more often, at a time that suits them. It now takes just over 100 hours to train a paramedic to the same level that it would take nearly 350 hours in a traditional setting. That’s 70 per cent more efficient.

‘With the nature of a computer-based scenario we are also able to get a much clearer picture of any training that might need extra attention and it’s allowed us to really think about the most efficient way to help those injured while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

‘Our first Virtual Paramedic program of mass road crash casualties has been so successful, it’s now being trialled elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand and we are very pleased to have secured funding for the development of another scenario,’ Mr Dunlop said.

CAE Asia/Pacific President and General Manager, Defence and Security, Peter Redman said: ‘Simulation-based training is ideal for planning and preparing for a range of emergency scenarios requiring fast and critical decision making. We are pleased to have supported the development of a simulation-based solution that is delivering outstanding results and look forward to continued collaboration with Ambulance Victoria.’

The Virtual Paramedic program has received funding through the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme, overseen in Victoria by Emergency Management Victoria.