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Extended Reality Enhances Emergency Medical Responder Training

Image sources: news.nus.edu.sg

Medical first responders must promptly classify victims according to the severity of their injuries in a mass casualty incident. Creating realistic scenarios to train these responders can help better prepare them for such crises. However, real-life mass casualty simulation drills require an immense amount of planning, manpower, time, and space.

Virtual reality (VR) simulation drills can help ease the number of resources needed compared to physical drills, but most VR simulations involve point-and-click actions using gaming controllers, or they simply offer users a visual simulation of an incident with no interactivity. These virtual simulations lack the direct and natural tactile interaction that stimulates cognitive and muscle memory.

Targeting the limitations of these conventional training methods, researchers at the Keio-NUS CUTE Center under the National University of Singapore (NUS) Smart Systems Institute, together with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), developed the Multi-Sensory Extended Reality (MS-XR) Medical Crisis Management System which offers medical first responders a more realistic triage training experience.

The crisis management system has been used in the SAF Medical Training Institute’s (SMTI) medical triaging training module. SMTI has trained Emergency Medical Technicians trainees from SMTI  through the new training approach and feedback from these trainees has been positive. SMTI plans to use the new training module for all its trainees and graduates across the various SAF units every year.

This medical crisis management system builds on Keio-NUS CUTE Center’s existing work on multi-sensory stimulation systems and assembly. In this collaboration, we worked closely with SMTI to design a training scenario that is highly applicable for their personnel. Given the customisable nature of our MS-XR middleware, we look forward to expanding the practical applications of this innovation.

– Associate Professor Yen Ching-Chiuan, Co-Director of the Keio-NUS CUTE Centre

At the heart of the system is an MS-XR middleware platform – software that brings together virtual reality with tangible multi-sensorial hardware interfaces. In the MS-XR Medical Crisis Management System, the middleware links a physical smart manikin with a virtually simulated casualty to create synchronised responses between the physical and virtual elements.

Using the system, trainees are able to perform life-saving interventions and interact with casualties as they would in reality. These include conducting triage assessments such as checking on breath, pulse and mental state, as well as airway repositioning. The interactions are performed on a smart manikin developed with smart sensors and haptic devices to recreate the tangible feeling of handling a casualty. Users also put on proprietary tracker gloves that provide tactile feedback to the virtual simulation without the need for another intermediary controller. The simulation, on the other hand, indicates a casualty’s vital signs, such as pulse.

Trainees are immersed in a realistic situation from the get-go. They are required to move quickly through the virtual scene while physically triaging casualties efficiently. At the end of each simulation exercise, each trainee receives a timely assessment with the breakdown of their actions recorded for analysis and debriefing.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, to monitor Singapore residents’ online behaviour during the pandemic, such as how they interacted with fake news, their online shopping activity and digital payment trends, researchers at Nanyang Technology University’s (NTU’s) Centre for Information Integrity and the Internet (IN-cube) tracked a panel of Singapore residents through online surveys in Dec 2020, Jun 2021, and Dec 2021. Singapore is considered to be one of the most digitally connected nations in the world.

According to findings from a study, there is a disconnect between how confident people here are in spotting fake news and their ability to actually do so amid the Covid-19 pandemic. About half of the people polled here – 48% to 53% – said they could tell if a piece of information on social media is true or false. However, about seven in 10 – 69% to 76% – admitted that they have unknowingly shared fake news.

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