WMAS utilises simulation centre

Monday, 09 May, 2022

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."

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