EPICSAVE – Enhanced ParamedIC vocational training with Serious games And Virtual Environments

An anaphylactic shock in children requires fast, accurate action of paramedics. However, such cases occur only in 0.5% of all emergency ambulance rides during the course of the 3-year vocational training program required in Germany. Compensatory practical training is difficult to achieve using conventional training measures (such as actors, simulator puppets).

The project consortium develops a practicing system for paramedical vocational training that combines serious game technology with virtual reality and connected platforms in concert with curricular modeling and implementation at paramedic services. The project includes one private and one public emergency service, as well as technology researchers, commercial serious game developers and media education experts.

Methods & Materials
The technical system aims at enabling users to perform practical actions in simulated hands-on scenarios as parameterized experiences that are playfully motivated. The two platforms include (#1) mobile tablet PCs offering challenge-based casual game-play around optimizing medical algorithms and (#2) virtual reality simulation gaming allowing users to adept the same medical algorithms to rich experiences. The demonstrator will include two prototypes with two scenarios each, respectively theming adult and child patients. The virtual reality setup will be optimized towards user experience using commercially available head-sets (e.g., Oculus Rift, HTC VIVE) that are enhanced with binocular eye-tracking. Eye-tracking supports natural attention modeling of virtual agents and real-time interaction and is expected to have a positive impact on learning processes.

The educational concept integrates these prototypes into the course of vocational training programs with public and private emergency service providers. The educational implementation includes two pilot studies (one for each prototype) and a long term analysis of learners’ and teachers’ situations over the course of three years. The development process uses agile methods such as regular review meetings and user experience testing.

Market Perspective
Primary focus is the German market of medical education and vocational training with its recently reformed occupation emergency paramedics (‘Notfallsanitäter’), which requires increased practical medical skills opposed to the former role of rescue assistant (‘Rettungsassistent’). This situation provides attractive opportunities for new business models, further extending to other target groups such as doctors and nurses who are required to perform training on a yearly basis.

The publicly funded project involves a high-ranked German consortium of both private and public providers of emergency services, as well as technology researchers, commercial serious game developers and media education experts: Bonn-Rhein-Sieg Univ. of Appl. Sciences (lead and technology research), Fraunhofer IESE (educational concept), Malteser Hilfsdienst, (non-profit provider of emergency services), Falck Germany and G.A.R.D. (largest private provider of emergency services in Europe), TriCAT (commercial serious game developer). The consortium further includes an advisory board involving leading national organizations of paramedical services, insurance companies and game developers.

Expected Results
The project develops prototypical solutions for training rare but critical emergencies that are otherwise difficult to practice. The prototypes aim at an easy implementation as commercial products with actual curricula. Challenges are effectively combining gaming and learning while offering comfortable, actually applicable virtual reality.