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VR is filling a gap

We learned a long time ago that a family meeting at our house has to include everyone. Now that is not as easy as it sounds with ten people in the same house because they are NEVER all in the same house at the same time. Family meetings have now become mandatory attendance because, to be honest, we grew tired of repeating ourselves. Another reason was because if we relied on one kid to tell another kid what the content of the meeting was, it was NEVER accurate.

Using that analogy, I want to critique a news story I recently saw on social media. The post was celebratory as the community had completed a massive expansion and they not only wanted to draw attention to their accomplishment, but they wanted to draw focus to anew effort to make sure the facility was safe and secure.

I will let you read the post below:

Exciting Collaboration Alert! __________ ISD hosted the _______ Fire Department to tour the brand-new ______________________ Center. Ensuring community safety takes center stage for our firefighters! We explored every nook and cranny to expose and prepare for every potential hazard. Your safety during events is our top priority!

Pretty impressive and in an age of active shooters and mas casualty events in the news, this is a pretty wise move by the marketing and management departments at this facility.

The problems with this news story is as follows:

Let’s look at the sheer size of this facility:

If you walked me through that building today and brought me back in three weeks, it would become pretty obvious pretty quickly that I had retained very little during the tour. Worse yet, if we suddenly received a 911 call from someone trapped in the restroom near the costume storage room, I would have little idea how to get to that location by memory.

Let’s also look at the firefighters that attended this event:

By my count, there was less than nine firefighters on this tour. My small department in rural Texas has 28 members. In this community, there are three shifts of firefighters and according to their website, there are 14 locations housing firefighters and EMT’s.

In other words, as of today, a VERY small percentage of the community’s firefighters have seen that building let alone studied it. It also should be pointed out that there were no EMS personnel on this tour and no law enforcement officers.

Now let’s run the scenarios.

In the event of a massive fire, we have nine people, all probably on the day shift as this is when the tour was held, that know the building. They will have to rely on what they remember to navigate the building.

EMS will have to rely solely on those nine, assuming those nine are present.

In the event of an active shooter which is probably more conceivable, law enforcement has no idea how to navigate this facility.

If you have never seen the cone of learning or the cone of experience, (or the learning pyramid) the principles are relatively all the same and relatively common knowledge amongst trainers and instructors.

This cone was originally developed by Edgar Dale back in 1946. He was an American educator who developed the cone as part of his book on how to incorporate audio-visual materials into the classroom learning experience. Since its creation, the cone has gone through many changes and adjustments by different scholars and experts all with an agenda to prove a point or to force adoption of new techniques in learning but there is very little science behind the changes that have been added since the original cone.

So let’s look at the cone in its purest form:

We retain 10% of what we read

We retain 20% of what we hear

We retain 30% of what we see

We retain 50% of what we see and hear

Even if his assessment is even SOMEWHAT erroneous, we can safely bet that retention two months after the tour will be less than optimal.

So, we have facility management that was attempting to focus on safety. That alone is not only worth noting but is a challenge to most facility management teams.

The facility reached out to their local responders. Again, applause can be inserted here.

We have no idea who was invited, and perhaps law and EMS was included but chose not to attend, but nine responders showed up. My hat is off to all of them for making this effort.

Now my critique and solution.

This was an opportunity to embrace the VirtuSafe methodology when it comes to emergency response planning and training. If a VS team had been called in to the facility, a complete capture could have been created in a matter of hours and within one week, local law, ems, fire and emergency management could have been given access to the capture allowing any responder to access the inside of that facility at any time and discover routes, locations of AED’s, hose connections, hiding places, elevators, stairwells, etc.

This would have been immediately available in the event of an incident allowing command to guide responders from outside the building and before time or energy was wasted.

Once the capture was created, different versions of the capture could have been developed for training facility personnel, law, fire and EMS.

After the capture was created, the facility could have hosted a tour (as they did) and utilized that tour to also introduce the response community to the capture with the instructions on how to access the capture.

As a new hire dons their uniform in that community, whether they be fire, EMS or law enforcement, this product could be used as part of their on-boarding allowing that responder to suddenly become a part of that original tour in a virtual world. New employees at the facility could also be trained using the same captured product.

Not all technology is worth the investment, but when lives are at stake and there are too many variables to allow for old fashioned training that occurs every 6 to 12 months, virtual reality becomes an affordable, reliable and consistent option.

Emerging research continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of VR training. A 2020 PwC study found that employees can complete VR training four times faster than in-person training and 1.5 times faster than e-learning training. Employees also retain knowledge of what they learned at a rate of up to 80% one year after the training, compared to 20% just one week after traditional training. That 80% could mean lives saved faster, less responder injuries and quicker response time.

If you would like to learn more about how VirtuSafe can bring your planning and response into the new world of technology, please reach out at

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