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Maine first responders turn to virtual reality training to help children

The virtual reality headsets and training applications are designed to mimic real-life emergency situations with kids

WELLS, Maine — To help respond to medical calls involving children, Maine first responders are turning to virtual reality.

"Definite game changer," said James Lapolla, Wells EMS Director.

The virtual reality headsets and training applications are designed to mimic real-life emergency situations and bring first responders into the environment.

"With the inability to simulate infants being sick, and nobody wants to practice that, we can bring that into more reality with virtual reality," said Marc Minkler, Program Manager, Maine EMS for Children.

Minkler is the program manager for Maine EMS for Children. He said Maine is the first state in the country to provide the training statewide.

"With COVID, we found so many challenges with group learning with getting together and spending time in the typical classroom environment and that close contract that we would have with an instructor during this, this virtual reality brings together both the realism of a pediatric patient but you're able to do it in a socially distant manner," said Minkler

Maine EMS is partnering with York Hospital, Bath Fire and Rescue, Rockland Fire and EMS, and Wells EMS to do a year-long in-depth review of the program.

"Everytime we deal with an emergency situation with a child it's another level, so if we can have education, you practice the way to educate yourself, so this education is very important to us," said Lapolla.

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