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ParaVR: a virtual reality training simulator for paramedic skills maintenance

02 December 2020
Volume 12 · Issue 12



Virtual reality (VR) technology is emerging as a powerful tool in medical training and has potential benefits for paramedic education.


The aim of this paper is to report the development of ParaVR, which uses VR to maintain paramedics' skills.


Computer scientists at the University of Chester and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) developed ParaVR in four stages: identifying requirements and specifications; alpha version development; beta version development; and management—development of software, further funding and commercialisation.


Needle cricothyrotomy and needle thoracostomy emerged as candidates for the prototype ParaVR. The Oculus Rift head-mounted display was combined with Novint Falcon haptic device and a virtual environment crafted using 3D modelling software, which was ported to the Oculus Go virtual reality headset and the Google Cardboard VR platform.


VR is an emerging educational tool with the potential to enhance paramedic skills development and maintenance. The ParaVR programme is the first step in the authors' development, testing and scaling up of this technology.

The turn of the 21st century marked a significant transition in the UK and international paramedic education from vocational training to higher education development (Cooper, 2005). Paramedics have since developed their knowledge and clinical expertise across a wide range of specialties, including in primary, urgent, unscheduled, emergency and critical care (College of Paramedics (CoP), 2018). This transition is based on a balanced approach to the integration of theory and practice to ensure competency (CoP, 2019). Simulation has long been a valuable method in paramedic education as it involves techniques that imitate prehospital patient situations and facilitates learning and development of psychomotor skills to demonstrate procedural skills, decision-making and critical thinking (Jeffries, 2005; Williams et al, 2016; Birt et al, 2017a).

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