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VR tool to help trainers educate emergency medical responders who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances and must follow OSHA standards for HAZWOPER
VRT3 gives instructors the necessary tools to enhance safety training.

VR tool from Charles River Analytics will help train emergency responders handling hazardous materials

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) awarded Charles River Analytics a contract to help instructors use virtual reality (VR) tools appropriately and to their full potential to enhance training for emergency responders who may encounter hazardous materials. The project has received funding of approximately a quarter of a million dollars, enabling the design and development of various components.

Employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances must follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER). Virtual reality can make training programs more engaging and effective than traditional classroom lessons. However, poorly implemented and delivered VR training, such as lessons delivered without highly technology-literate trainers, can be ineffective or inaccurate.

Charles River Analytics is creating Virtual Reality “Train the Trainer” (VRT3), which addresses knowledge gaps by providing tools for trainers to understand and utilize VR to enhance training methods. The project emphasizes improving accessibility and addressing inequities in VR training adoption.

VRT3 is built on Charles River’s existing KWYN™ AI platform, which augments skills through intelligent guidance and coaching. The KWYN platform includes a suite of VR-based adaptive training tools for HAZWOPER and first responder training with the knowledge and resources to showcase the advantages of using VR training technology.

“This project is about improving instructor familiarity and effective use of VR as part of worker safety training,” says Dan Duggan, XR Software Engineer and Co-Principal Investigator on the VRT3 effort. He adds, “Effective use of VR can improve safety training, especially for those working in hazardous environments where live training is limited.”

The project involves focus groups with HAZWOPER trainers to gather insights and requirements. The team will then develop a trainer interface to allow trainers to see what students experience in VR, gather performance metrics, and offer feedback. VRT3 employs Charles River’s Virtuoso software development kit, which facilitates the development of VR simulations, and the KWYN adaptive training framework within VRT3 manages the assessment of skills and interventions.

“Trainers are experts in their field but may not have experience working with VR technology. VRT3 assists trainers with understanding how to use VR simulations and enhancing their training based on the VR modules,” says Dr. E. Vincent Cross, II, Senior Scientist and Co-Principal Investigator on VRT3.

The project is expected to make it easier for trainers to use VR, providing students with a more immersive and effective learning experience. It aims to improve worker safety by enhancing training quality. There are potential applications beyond HAZWOPER training, as VR programs can enhance safety training and provide operational assistance for various industries, including medical, oil and gas, and more.

Contact us to learn more about VRT3 and our other capabilities in adaptive intelligent training, health and medical, and extended reality (XR) interfaces.

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Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Award Number 1R43GM149022-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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