Claire Brown – Monday 28th March 2022 – 9.00am.
Technology and teamwork have combined in Coventry to help train first responders and local authorities to manage major incidents.
Working alongside Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire councils and the local emergency services, the Simulation Centre at Coventry University has created realistic virtual reality emergency response scenarios to train emergency responders to help keep people safe at major events, including those for Coventry UK City of Culture.
The Simulation Centre employs lots of systems and methods to create highly immersive, real time changeable training scenarios. The main interactive area features a 10-metre, 160° curved screen, surround sound, temperature regulation to simulate outdoor conditions, as well as smoke, lighting and smell effects to immerse delegates.
David Levesley, West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Emergency Preparedness Manager, said: “The simulation centre offers complex scenarios that can be quickly reset and quickly altered. This means that all our commanders can experience multi-agency working, identifying learning quickly and consistently.
“Training is essential to all emergency services to test our response to major incident scenarios and ensure we’re prepared. To regularly undertake live exercises takes a large amount of preparation and planning, not to mention a large number of ambulance staff, police officers and firefighters at the scene.
“While live exercises will always be necessary, using new equipment like this we can still create all the visual impact and complexity of a real situation which reduces the impact of exercise planning and delivery on operational availability and can be linked directly to training and development objectives and outcomes.
“We’re really grateful to James and rest of the university for recognising our important work and for giving us this amazing opportunity.”
James Doyle, Simulation Centre Manager from Coventry University, said: “What we’ve found from facilitating these sessions is that people don’t behave as though it’s training. The situations are so immersive, delegates forget they’re being assessed and act more naturally as they are being observed remotely from our control room. Just like the services, our unique facility is second to none and helps us remove ‘exercise-itis’ and by working together in this way, we’re helping keep the city safe.”
Notes to Editor:
Pictured (left to right): WMAS David Levesley with police and fire colleagues at simulation centre.
In one recently tested scenario, a car race on Coventry ring road is stopped when an electric car carrying protestors opposed to the race gains access to and blocks a ring road, causing one of the racing cars to crash through the barriers, injuring spectators. As emergency staff rush to help the casualties, they are overcome by fumes and they themselves become patients. The lighting and temperature in the room change as the incident progresses and actors in the room play the roles of distressed relatives, angry protestors and anyone else who paramedics, police or firefighters might come across at an actual emergency scene. Just as in real incidents, frontline staff share updates of what’s happening with their control rooms and decisions are then fed into the simulation, changing the virtual scene in real time to show how they impact the incident.
Just like the emergency services need to prepare for emergencies, so do you. Whether it’s learning first aid, having a home fire escape plan or being ready for extreme weather, there’s lots of ways you can reduce the negative impact these events have on you and your family. Find out more on your council’s website or visit this government website.