Simulators for Training Firefighters
As testing progresses, we hope these visualization and simulation technologies can help meet ever-expanding training needs for both military and civilian emergency response teams. Applications for this limited prototype include pretraining practice runs for rescue workers and navigational training for workers unfamiliar with the environment.
Future plans and upgrades to this software are a bit more ambitious. One use for the system is as a scenario-driven classroom/firehouse trainer. It will include instructor-steered or preconfigured scenarios in which the trainer reacts to trainee/student input and adjusts the scenario accordingly. This will be supported by physics-based modeling of fire/smoke/heat and so on. As with the prototype, future iterations of this software will be available in various display configurations, from large/multiple-screen classrooms to PCs and laptops.
In addition to the scenario-driven training, this software also is planned to be a post-exercise debriefing tool. The location of trainees in a training environment, such as Randall's Island or a burn building, can be tracked at any time during the training exercise. Trainers could replay the training event, showing participants' locations at given times. Planned features include split-screen displays that could show participants' individual viewpoints during the exercise as well as the bird's-eye view.
The author would like to thank Mr Jim Pollock of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center for funding this project, Dr Stephan Hitman of the NYFD for providing logistical support and resources and Dr Larry Rosenblum of the Naval Research Laboratory for permission to use the ex-USS Shadwell model.
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Douglas Maxwell is a mechanical engineer and research scientist at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. His areas of expertise include design synthesis in virtual environments and synthetic training applications. He lives with his wife and dachshund in Newport, Rhode Island.