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Driving simulator helps in training drivers

At first glance, the trio of oversized TV screens, an oversized operator’s seat and authentic mobile ambulance may all look like some elaborate video game setup.

But what the system actually is used for is serious business, teaching emergency personnel and law enforcement officers the ins and outs of defensive driving in a safe way.

Housed in OTC’s Center for Workforce Development, the driving simulator gives users a chance to drive in a variety of emergency conditions that, until now, could only be experienced in real life as they happened.

New software gives users a chance to “drive” an ambulance to an emergency or give a law enforcement officer the experience of chasing a suspect’s vehicle.

“Simulation training devices are one innovative way the OTC Center for Workforce Development is investing in order to better serve those in the fields of emergency medicine and law enforcement. Those driving skills are critical to their jobs,” said Sherry Coker, director of the center.

The law enforcement software used on the simulator gives users a number of scenarios to deal with during a chase, including oncoming traffic and dangerous intersection crossings. Similar hazardous situations are presented to those using the ambulance software.

Sue Allan, an OTC Emergency Medical Technician instructor, said the emergency vehicle training can be used in conjunction with the new mobile ambulance that accurately reproduces the back of an ambulance. It includes a sophisticated medical manikin that students can practice providing care for, while hydraulics move the unit around as if it were driving down a street or highway.

“Defensive driving concepts are heightened when running with red lights. We can make sure EMTs are adhering to policies for driving emergency vehicles,” said Doug Akers, manager of the OTC Transport Training Institute.

“This will help them react to conditions. Instead of learning it as it happens, they can come here and learn it safely. That’s important.”

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