INDIANA – GTI, in collaboration with Frontier Energy, is offering Hazmat Virtual to first responders across the United States. GTI offers the training program, which includes a loan of VR headsets, at no cost to first responders thanks to a Department of Transportation Community Safety Grant.
“Virtual reality training immerses the trainee in a realistic environment in which their actions impact the outcome,” said Ray Deatherage, GTI’s Director of Training. “Trainees can make mistakes, get instant feedback, and try again. Research shows that people retain about 70% of what they learn when they experience training, compared to 20% from watching a video and 10% from reading.”
Municipal, volunteer, and military fire departments and training organizations can choose from three modules—a tanker truck, a semi-truck, and a train derailment—each with 80 variations of hazardous liquids. In each module, the team leader or trainee chooses from 80 situations with hazardous chemicals, and “fire present” or “no fire.” Trainees must demonstrate that they can select the proper equipment, identify the cargo and type of hazard, secure the area, and extinguish the fire (when present). At the end of the session, the trainee sees a report card and can repeat the exercise as necessary. Upon successful completion, trainees earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs).
Videos of training sessions are linked on the website, and everyone can see how VR training works. Trainees reported that the experience is so real that they smell smoke.
Additionally, the website has information and resources for everyone in the community to understand how to identify and transport hazardous materials including a small amount of paint, nail polish, or cooking oil that needs to be properly packaged and labeled. U.S. Department of Transportation encourages everyone to Check the Box for safety.