Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Paramedic students participated in a first of its kind virtual reality training.

The training is part of a research study to see how these simulations affect a student’s critical thinking

Roanoke, Va – Imagine having doctors, first responders, and paramedics go through real life training before they ever enter the field, without the real life consequences. That’s what students from Roanoke County Fire and Rescue experienced as part of a research study to see how these simulations affect a student’s critical thinking.

Ryan Lanning with Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department says he wanted to be more hands on in the community. That is why he decided to start training to be a paramedic.

Lanning says, “I just enjoy the whole medical side of things. At the end of the day, we are here to serve the public and that is how we are going to do so the most.”

Lanning started training last winter. His class did a lot of in classroom exercises but recently they were part of only 200 students across the nation to try out a new hands-on virtual reality program.

“You get to watch the patient, watch them improve or get worse, depending on what treatment you chose,” says Lanning.

The program from VRpatients takes you through a number of real-life scenarios you would encounter as a paramedic. You get to put on the headset and actually interact with your patients. Zach cooper who is was also a part of the VR training says completely different what he experienced before.

Cooper says, “From imagining a patient and talking through a scenario to actually seeing your patient and your patient responding to your treatments and responding to your assessments, it takes a lot of getting used to.”

Wayne King who is a Master Paramedic Firefighter FTO who has been in the field for years, says this is a unique training and can be a very helpful tool.

“I think the cool thing is that by creating the scenario or by creating the space around them, it is something that they may see in the field when they start to do their internships or their field clinical times,” says King.

Ryan says he hopes that this virtual reality training becomes more common to help future generations

“If they have something like covid again, where we can’t have patient contact and hands on, then that will probably be our best bet, is virtual.”

The results on how virtual reality impacts this sort of training will be published in the fall. Ryan and Zach are expected to complete training in December.

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