Evaluation of Virtual Reality-based First Responder Training under Physiological and Cognitive-Emotional Strain
Authors: Lilian Reim, K Wolfgang Kallus, Martin Pszeida, Michael Schneeberger, Christian Schönauer, Andreas Peer, Richard Feischl, Georg Aumayr, Dietmar Wallner, Amir Dini, Anna Weber, Stefan Ladstätter, Alexander Almer, Lucas Paletta
Abstract: First responders are faced with various challenges and critical situations during their operations. Virtual Reality (VR) training environments offer a great opportunity to create realistic operational scenarios with appropriate levels of difficulty. To evaluate VR-based training regarding cognitive-emotional and physical strain, a pilot study with 13 first responders (firefighters and paramedics) was conducted. The study plan aimed to induce equivalent strain in both, real environment (‘RC’) and VR-based (‘VR’), training scenarios. In summary, the results indicate that training sessions in real and in VR-based environments have a comparable impact on physical strain, on different dimensions of workload like physical and cognitive demand, and specific physical and emotional states. Most important, we could show that physical strain, which is a critical factor for appropriate training of first responders, cannot only be induced by traditional real-life training, but also by an immersive VR training environment. These results confirm and motivate the use of VR environments for the training of stress-resilient decision-making behaviour for emergency forces.
Keywords: first responder, virtual reality, Cognitive-Emotional Strain
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