Serious Games for Serious Simulation, An In-depth Look at Combat Medic from Virtual Heroes
Written By: Steve Melito
Thunderbolt Business Services
Combat Medic, a game-based system from Virtual Heroes, Inc., is a digital example of MedSim’s use in the U.S. military. This serious game from the Orlando-based division of Advanced Research Associates (ARA) helps prepare medical personnel to treat the top three causes of battlefield deaths: hemorrhage, airway management, and tension pneumothorax.
Steve Melito, a MedSim writer, recently interviewed Virtual Heroes Division Manager Randy Brown for an article in Combat & Casualty Care (C&CC) magazine. Brown was joined by Steve McIlwain, a senior producer. Excerpts from the interview appear in C&CC, but the full interview appears here on HealthySimulation.com.
1) What are some of the most important features and capabilities that you’d like readers to know about Combat Medic?
Combat Medic is the next step in serious gaming technology. We have effectively combined state-of-the-art game engine technology, medically accurate casualty conditions, and immersive environments, to create something truly special. To accommodate many training needs, we designed this application to deliver content through self-directed, team-based, and instructor-led training methods. Our overall goal was to prepare combat medics to treat the top three causes of preventable deaths on the modern battlefield: hemorrhage, airway management, and tension pneumothorax.
To maximize the learning benefit and scalability of the application, we integrated a robust difficulty system. This difficulty system introduces increasingly more challenging treatment scenarios. The system also increases the overall cognitive load of the participant by means of various distractions within the environment. The real-time, interactive immersion enables the cognitive load to resonate with the user. In theory, this translates to better handling of distractive elements encountered during real casualty treatment. Randomized variation of injuries aids in the neuroplasticity of the participant—they don’t just learn how to complete the training, they learn appropriate treatment methods.
A great feature of Combat Medic is its versatility. The application is highly customizable. For example, users may choose the contents and configuration of their aid bags; this stresses the importance of organization and preparation prior to casualty treatment, and it accommodates for varying equipment availability within the field. And Combat Medic is not only fantastic for individual training, but team training as well. During team exercises, users have the option to communicate using microphone-enabled headsets, which allows for effective team communication, triaging, and treatment coordination.
A critical component of any virtual training environment is performance assessment. We took a multi-pronged approach to assessment, to reach a larger demographic and to allow for different training environments. Our assessment system includes standard GO/NO GO performance criteria, casualty condition information, participant actions, and the ability to graphically view the casualty’s vitals throughout the scenario, as a function of elapsed scenario time. When a scenario is finished, participants and instructors can play the scenario back in full 3D with synchronized audio, to evaluate treatment performance and to identify areas for improvement.
Arguably the most important aspect of any training application is its accuracy. To achieve a true-to-life casualty physiological response during each scenario, we integrated our open-source BioGears® Physiology Engine. This validated engine accurately simulates the effects of participants’ actions on the casualty’s physiological condition. At the same time, it provides real-time casualty vitals with dynamic casualty behavior, based on the current physiological state.
Finally, a training application must be accessible. For Combat Medic to be easily available to medics around the world, it needs a relatively seamless method of deployment. For this, we use our proprietary Go Platform. Says Randy Brown, Virtual Heroes Division Manager, “the Go Platform is an exciting technology that combines simplified browser-based application delivery, virtual meeting spaces for mission briefing / debriefing discussions, interactive playback of training sessions, and modularity for future expansion.”
Read the full interview by clicking on the read more link below!