Virtual Reality Triage Training Provides a Viable Solution for Disaster-preparedness

Authors

  • Pamela B. Andreatta EdD,

    1. From the Departments of Medical Education (PBA, WS, MM) and Emergency Medicine (SS, JF), University of Michigan 3-D Lab (EM, SP, TH), University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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  • Eric Maslowski,

    1. From the Departments of Medical Education (PBA, WS, MM) and Emergency Medicine (SS, JF), University of Michigan 3-D Lab (EM, SP, TH), University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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  • Sean Petty,

    1. From the Departments of Medical Education (PBA, WS, MM) and Emergency Medicine (SS, JF), University of Michigan 3-D Lab (EM, SP, TH), University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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  • Woojin Shim,

    1. From the Departments of Medical Education (PBA, WS, MM) and Emergency Medicine (SS, JF), University of Michigan 3-D Lab (EM, SP, TH), University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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  • Michael Marsh MS,

    1. From the Departments of Medical Education (PBA, WS, MM) and Emergency Medicine (SS, JF), University of Michigan 3-D Lab (EM, SP, TH), University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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  • Theodore Hall,

    1. From the Departments of Medical Education (PBA, WS, MM) and Emergency Medicine (SS, JF), University of Michigan 3-D Lab (EM, SP, TH), University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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  • Susan Stern MD,

    1. From the Departments of Medical Education (PBA, WS, MM) and Emergency Medicine (SS, JF), University of Michigan 3-D Lab (EM, SP, TH), University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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  • Jen Frankel MD

    1. From the Departments of Medical Education (PBA, WS, MM) and Emergency Medicine (SS, JF), University of Michigan 3-D Lab (EM, SP, TH), University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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  • Presented at the SimTecT Health 2009 Health Simulation Conference, Melbourne, Australia, September 7–10, 2009.

  • None of the authors associated with this manuscript have any potential conflicts of interest, including financial interests, relationships, or affiliations relevant to the subject of this manuscript.

  • Supervising Editor: Richard L. Lammers, MD.

Address for correspondence and reprints: Pamela B. Andreatta, EdD; e-mail: pandreat@umich.edu.

Abstract

ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2010; 17:870–876 © 2010 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Abstract

Objectives:  The objective of this study was to compare the relative impact of two simulation-based methods for training emergency medicine (EM) residents in disaster triage using the Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) algorithm, full-immersion virtual reality (VR), and standardized patient (SP) drill. Specifically, are there differences between the triage performances and posttest results of the two groups, and do both methods differentiate between learners of variable experience levels?

Methods:  Fifteen Postgraduate Year 1 (PGY1) to PGY4 EM residents were randomly assigned to two groups: VR or SP. In the VR group, the learners were effectively surrounded by a virtual mass disaster environment projected on four walls, ceiling, and floor and performed triage by interacting with virtual patients in avatar form. The second group performed likewise in a live disaster drill using SP victims. Setting and patient presentations were identical between the two modalities. Resident performance of triage during the drills and knowledge of the START triage algorithm pre/post drill completion were assessed. Analyses included descriptive statistics and measures of association (effect size).

Results:  The mean pretest scores were similar between the SP and VR groups. There were no significant differences between the triage performances of the VR and SP groups, but the data showed an effect in favor of the SP group performance on the posttest.

Conclusions:  Virtual reality can provide a feasible alternative for training EM personnel in mass disaster triage, comparing favorably to SP drills. Virtual reality provides flexible, consistent, on-demand training options, using a stable, repeatable platform essential for the development of assessment protocols and performance standards.

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