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Education/Training

University-based Paramedic Virtual Reality Training Center Launches in the UK

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November 27, 2015 -- A sophisticated clinical simulation center designed to recreate some of the life and death situations faced by paramedics on emergency calls has been opened.

The new facilities harness techniques such as virtual-reality simulation and include a revolutionary immersion room that uses 3D technology to emulate real-life settings allowing students to practice emergency scenarios such as dealing with a road accident or responding to a nightclub fire.

Based in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, run jointly by Kingston University and St George's, University of London, the Paramedic Clinical Simulation Center is packed with technology to train students for careers that will see them play a vital role assisting patients across Greater London and neighboring regions.

The center includes two life-sized, fully fitted rear sections of an ambulance, which enable students to gain vital experience of working within the confined spaces they will encounter when responding to emergencies.

Three purpose-built rooms replicating the type of everyday home settings frequently encountered by paramedics, including a kitchen and a bathroom, also form part of the new center. In addition, a skills acquisition laboratory will enable students to practice treatment procedures, such as suturing, on manikins.

Dean of the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education Professor Andy Kent said the clinical simulation center provides a new approach to paramedic education and training: "Our investment in specialist equipment, including the immersion room, makes this a unique facility within a United Kingdom university. It gives our students the opportunity to gain vital hands-on training in a true-to-life setting, with sensory stimulation provided through interactive projected walls, light, sound and visual effects all adding an authentic feel to their learning experience."

Students registered with Kingston and St George's for the new three year BSc(Hons) Paramedic Science degree will work in the facilities throughout their courses. They will begin in the skills acquisition laboratory before being encouraged to put their new-found knowledge into practice within a purpose-built home setting. Later in their studies, they will use the immersion room to get more of a real life experience.

Training sessions are filmed and will be able to be viewed live or played back for debriefing at any stage by lecturers. This allows essential skills to be acquired in a safe but realistic environment before practice placements with ambulance services.

Charlotte Mitchell, a first year student completing a BSc(Hons) in Paramedic Science, said the simulation suite was helping her become more confident, as well as improving her clinical skills and ability to communicate with patients: "The facilities have provided amazing opportunities to get a feel for what it is really like to treat patients. It's so much better than simply learning the algorithms behind the different care pathways and being taught what equipment to use. The immersion room allows us to enter other scenarios, such as in a nightclub or on a farm, and treat patients while learning how to assess an environment and deal with other things that might occur."

The new center will play an important part in addressing the ever changing and increasingly demanding role of paramedic and emergency service providers across the Greater London and South East regions. Kingston and St George's work closely with the London Ambulance Service and the South East Coast Ambulance Service to provide a comprehensive range of education and training for the next generation of paramedics. The institutions are also heavily involved in supporting the continuing workforce development needs of staff already employed by the services.

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