For the men and women of the Allen Fire Department (AFD) in Allen, Texas, this scenario is a reality. Well, it is a ‘virtual reality’. Utilizing interactive gaming computer technology, our firefighters are able to enter virtual burning buildings and hone their suppression and decision making skills. The Allen Fire Department’s V.E.C.T.O.R. (Virtual Emergency Command Training for Operational Readiness) program is far from being a video game; it is a multi-person, interactive environment that responds to the actions of those being trained in it. If the firefighters utilize the right strategies, tools and tactics, the scenario reacts accordingly and is resolved. Should one or more of the firefighters fail to perform a task or make an incorrect decision, the fire will grows and spread just as it would in real life. Without appropriate and timely actions, the fire, heat and smoke will spread throughout the building, firefighters can be burned and injured, and victims will perish. Unlike in the real world, this virtual world can be reset with the push of a button. The firefighters can immediately redo the fire using what they have learned. The best part is that the firefighters do this all in the safety of a virtual environment. No one gets hurt. No equipment is damaged. The firefighters can hit a pause button and respond to a real emergency.
This case study was submitted to the Alliance for Innovation as a TLG case study application.