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Dartmouth launches WMD respone simulation software

Published 4 June 2007

Sixteen hour course teaches first responders basic and advanced technqiues in handling WMD and explosive-related emergencies

The military has long been interested in videogame-based simulation technology, using it for everything from training pilots to honing sniper shooting skills. Now, first responders are getting into the act. Consider as an example the Dartmouth University’s Interactive Media Laboratory (IML), which announced last week the first offering in its new Virtual Terrorism Response Academy. Known as “Ops-Plus for WMD Hazmat,” the sixteen hour course teaches first responders basic and advanced technqiues in handling WMD and explosive-related emergencies. “The trainee faces a series of increasingly-challenging tactical situations,” said IML’s Joseph Henderson. “The choices the trainee makes drive realistic scenarios that would involve life-and-death consequences during real incidents.”

According to IML, the course begins in a simulated Hazmat learning lab before moving directly into a series of simulated scenarios, during which the traineee uses “accurately-modeled instruments” to respond to presented challenges — for instance, which protective gear he should wear and what special tools he will need when approaching the site of a dirty bomb attack. “It’s not just glorified PowerPoint,” said Henderson. “It’s accessible and effective. Even if you’ve never played a video game, you can learn from ‘Ops-Plus,’ and you can easily use this over and over again to keep your skills sharp.” The project, we should note, is funded by DHS and the nes FEMA National Preparedness Directorate. It relies on distance learning and, in a nod to local budgetary concerns, is designed to run on the older Windows-based systems common to firehouses and EMS stations.

Individual copies cost $35.

More information about IML and VTRA at: http://iml.dartmouth.edu/vtra/

More information about ISTS at: http://www.ists.dartmouth.edu/