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Virtual reality: the future or a COVID-era plaster?

02 December 2022
Volume 14 · Issue 12

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the UK NHS under considerable stress (NHS Providers and Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), 2021). One consequence of delivering the frontline response was the reduced capacity of UK emergency medical service (EMS) ambulance organisations to provide practical placement opportunities for undergraduate paramedic students (Council of Deans of Health, 2020). Physical distancing requirements (Sørensen et al, 2021) prevented many students from undertaking ‘on-the-road’ ambulance shifts, compromising their learning experience. To ensure that paramedic students received the training required to meet course objectives, a large NHS EMS organisation in South West England secured funding from Health Education England (HEE) to explore whether virtual reality (VR) technology could bridge the gap.

VR has been defined in a number of ways depending upon context, the level of immersion, and the methods used to simulate experiences without the student going through the real event. This article discusses the use of three-dimensional (3D) VR methods for simulating prehospital emergency ambulance scenarios. A range of scenarios delivered through a head-mounted display, accompanied by lights, sounds and smells, produced a medium-to-high immersive experience for students (Kardong-Edgren et al, 2019).

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