Could 5G offer a training remedy for the first responder shortage?

“The ability to deliver realistic training asynchronously is transformational,” says Ryan Ribeira, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine physician and assistant professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine who is also the CEO of virtual reality firm SimX. “People can learn at home, at an office or on their rig between calls,” he says. What’s more, he says, 5G supports multi-participant VR, which advances learning from textbooks to ultra-realistic simulations and situations for emergency service workers.

To that end, SimX has developed more than 250 medical simulations that address both common and uncommon situations. Equipped with a headset and the right connection, an EMT can venture into a virtual space and interact with instructors and other students. It’s possible to experience realistic events, including life-threatening situations with virtual patients suffering from stroke, drug overdose, trauma, cardiac arrest and anaphylaxis.

“The software tracks their critical actions and provides rich feedback that isn’t available through books, videos and other conventional learning tools,” Ribeira explains. With this data, it’s possible to gauge how individual students are learning, but also understand issues and events that cause widespread learning problems—and typically require additional training for emergency service workers. This means that a provider can typically accelerate the learning process but also gain deeper insights.

Even better, the system can replace costly simulators that can sometimes run into the millions of dollars. And the training can happen as EMTs need it, not when the simulator is available. This type of on-demand, 5G-powered, training can be an innovative tool that could help improve the nationwide emergency workers shortage.

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