Recognizing severe illness in infants and children is a high-stakes skill that takes continued practice, but maintaining this life-saving skill can be challenging for EMS clinicians since children only account for a small percentage of emergency calls. Maine EMS is working to address this education gap through virtual reality training, and Bath Fire & Rescue will be among the first departments to pilot the program.
Training revolves around Maine EMS’s grant funded virtual reality headsets that provide true-to-life pediatric assessment scenarios. Participants are transported into a virtual reality scenario that mimics a real-life emergency where EMS clinicians and hospital providers must assess a diverse group of infants or children, properly assess the findings, and use voice commands to initiate care.
“Pediatric patients represent some of our most fragile population” said Marc Minkler, Maine EMS for Children Program Manager. “Using virtual reality allows EMS and hospital providers across the State of Maine to improve their decision-making process and treatment. We can simulate the appearance, environment and the stress of a sick child in a way never undertaken before, all to improve the ability of Emergency Services to care for child in an emergency.”
Captain Ashley Moody of the Bath Fire & Rescue Department has already completed training on the headsets. She said she was impressed by the program’s design, which incorporates realistic distractions (like non-patient children crying) and smart testing (scenarios which target areas for improvement) to create the best learning environment possible.
Moody and Chief Lawrence Renaud accompanied emergency providers from other pilot facilities (Wells EMS, the Rockland Fire & EMS Department and York Hospital) at Wells EMS on Tuesday, June 13, 2021, to talk about the program and provide virtual reality demonstrations with real-time simulation for reporters and photographers.
“We’re excited to start our providers on this training,” Moody said. “It’s a great way to boost and maintain our pediatric emergency preparedness in a controlled setting.”