EMS Drones, virtual reality workouts, help with emergency response

Since January, Austin-Travis County EMS doctors have been using virtual reality and drones to help search for missing or injured people, shoot hot spots, and help pilots with navigation.

“It’s going great,” said EMS Captain Christa Stedman of the new programs.

The new initiatives, called the SPARTAN program, cost about $ 60,000 in equipment and training. Stedman said the program was funded with a grant.

The SPARTAN team, or Special Projects – Air Reconnection – Transport – Aid – Navigation, has 15 drones. Seven is used for training, seven is used in the front line and one is used to take photos and videos during exercises or large-scale training events.

“The next phase of this program will include the autonomous delivery of UAAs of critical medical equipment such as DEAs and the potential to deliver life-saving medication to the patient’s side on 9-1-1 calls,” officials said. the EMS.

The SPARTAN team has responded to eight missions, totaling more than 45 flight hours.

Since January, the SPARTAN team has flown 791 training flights or general flights, 776 support flights and responded to 36 emergency operations, with a total of 328.7 flight hours, Stedman said Thursday.

The department is training first responders using virtual reality to simulate events such as a mass casualty incident and the use of the ambulance bus.

“A first responder will be trained on these skills and then not respond to a disaster for a few years. “Just in time” virtual reality training allows us to upgrade these skills quickly, without the need for physical equipment or setup, ”said Keith Noble, Austin-Travis County EMS Commander.

Virtual training, which is done through headphones, became the norm during the coronavirus pandemic.

Face-to-face training is usually only done once or twice a year, as mass victim events are difficult to simulate.

EMS doctors trained with Austin firefighters and police officers at Camp Mabry on April 28 and participated in an active attack scenario in which they responded to an active shooter. Police try to stop the attack, fire crews and EMS find and pick up patients, and doctors work to get them out and take them to a hospital.

“While we hope to never have to use this training, our community is in a better position if our response may be needed,” EMS officials said in a Facebook post last month.

Noble said he now plans to conduct these simulations more often.

“For first aid, it is not an option to postpone training. We have to be prepared to respond to a crisis, no matter what happens, ”said Noble. “This technology adapts well to the current environment, where we are doing it virtually.”

The city’s Department of Communications and Technology Management began developing virtual reality training in collaboration with Augmented Training Systems, a local company that develops this training for lifeguards.

“The platform allows you to track training and performance accuracy,” Scott Smith, president of Augmented Training Systems, said in a statement. “It also introduces elements of gamification and repetition, which help in retaining knowledge and remembering skills.”

The company’s case study in Austin found that students who did the virtual simulation demonstrated 45% more information retention, a 29% decrease in time spent on homework.

Ted Lehr, a city data architect who secured funding for the partnership, said he wants to bring similar technologies to other Austin services.

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