Using VR through VALOR to improve combat casualty care

  • Published
  • By Capt Savannah Stephens
  • 24 SOW Public Affairs
The 24th Special Operations Wing Surgeon General office has implemented the use of virtual reality training devices, in partnership with SimX, throughout special tactics to maintain the critical pararescueman skill in an ever-changing operational environment.

"The operational mission is going to continue to grow in complexity in the future fight," said U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorsch, 24th SOW Surgeon General.

The PJs must be prepared to treat both injury and illness in austere environments for longer periods of time with limited reach-back.

When looking at what the future operational environment may look like, the 24th SOW SG team must consider the implications to operational medicine. Scenarios PJs face could be in low-visibility areas where they have to keep patients alive for longer periods under possible chemical, biological, radiation or nuclear conditions.

"Preparing PJs medically for the future fight will require an advanced interoperable standard, optimized initial and sustainment training, deliberate tech development and integration, and enhanced performance tracking and feedback," said Dorsch.

The virtual reality program objectives are to improve realism, increase flexibility and reduce cost. Through more than $10 million in Department of Defense Research and Development Funding and the Air Force Small Business Research Innovation Research program, SimX and the 24th SOW have been able to create more than 80 training scenarios including canine treatment and care, blast injuries, severe gas exposure, and more.

These training devices provide intricate and realistic training scenarios that other methods, such as medical dummies, cannot, and improves the effectiveness of the training.

"By using a flexible piece of equipment, we are able to deliberately and efficiently target specific desired learning objectives based on evolving mission requirements," said Dorsch. "We now have the time and bandwidth to provide trainees with enhanced real-time feedback from the through the program, which grades the trainee on a point system through data analysis and a performance tracking system."

Currently, there are 14 sites online using the PJ Tactical Combat Casualty Care curriculum, including Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command. In the future, they plan to expand access to the existing medical training portfolio across all SOF TCCC responder tiers, broaden capabilities and integrate partner force training.

"The VALOR program has increased the availability of efficient and effective medical training and has allowed us to develop complex decision-making, which will improve survival rates in U.S., coalition and partner force combat casualties in the future fight," said Dorsch. "VR training is critical for ensuring that the highest level of combat trauma and austere medical care are provided by our special operations ground forces. We have only scratched the surface of its incredible potential."