Virtual Simulation Training Prepares Hospital Corpsman for Reality

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Story Number: NNS140215-01Release Date: 2/15/2014 10:54:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gerald Dudley Reynolds


SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- As part of a new training evolution, the Surface Warfare Medical Institute's (SWMI) Independent Duty Corpsmen (IDC) are trained before they deploy using virtual simulation that replicates conditions in the desert and aboard ship.

Two new state-of-the-art Virtual Reality Medical Simulation rooms were unveiled on Feb. 14 as part of a $7.6 million building renovation to enhance the learning environment for both students and instructors.

"We train IDCs to ensure that they are ready for anything out in the field and fleet," said IDC program director Master Chief Hospital Corspman Brad Kowitz from Portland, Ore.

During the simulated training, smoke surrounded the instructors and students. Darkness filled the room as training took place on a moving mannequin in the shipboard simulation room. In the next simulation room students were surrounded by gunfire and shouting sounds as a trauma mannequin was operated on in the desert simulation room.

"Virtual rooms give the students natural distractions while they try to maintain focus on the task at hand," said Kowitz.

Both virtual reality rooms were built with moveable walls and include a variety of props that include a 20-foot-dual projection screen, smoke machines and movie studio quality props and audio that allow different scenarios to play out within their primary environments.

The shipboard room can be modified to place students either on the forecastle of a destroyer or in an engine room. The second room can simulate a third world village or an outside desert.

Instructors teach over 50 different medicine and trauma-based scenarios that will test students' skills.

"This program can cater to the students' strengths and will encourage active participation from the students while giving the instructors more control over the environment," said Kowitz. "Instructors can control everything on the mannequins from the movement to the amount of blood that flows out of wounds."

The Naval Center Combat and Operational Stress Control (NCCOSC) program was also on display, which strives to improve the psychological health of Sailors and Marines through comprehensive programs that educate, build resilience and promote best practices in the treatment of combat and operational stress injuries.

"Post-traumatic stress disorder is always an issue but NCCOSC will help treat this and get them combat ready," said NCCOSC Director Capt. Scott L. Johnston, from Oakland, Calif.

The IDC program at SWMI is a year long Navy Medical school that prepares surface force hospital corpsmen to provide advanced medical care and treatment that is independent of medical officers.

Upon graduation, most students receive orders to deployable units, either aboard a ship or with the Fleet Marine Force. Approximately 160 students graduate each year.

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