Using Mixed Reality to improve UK Armed Forces training

A Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) member tests out the Mixed Reality MERT trainer

A new virtual simulator of a Chinook helicopter, developed by a team of technology experts at Birmingham, will soon be helping to improve training for UK Armed Forces’ Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) personnel.

Currently, defence medics train using fixed-location, expensive and low fidelity simulators. Experiences from recent international conflicts have identified the need to enhance future pre-deployment individual and small-team training by presenting them with operationally relevant simulated environments and tasks.

Developed by Professor Bob Stone and the University of Birmingham's Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team, the Mixed Reality MERT trainer blends real-life, physical objects with detailed and dynamic virtual environments. This enables armed forces personnel to experience immersive life-saving casualty scenarios in a safe environment.Personnel from the Tactical Medical Wing of RAF Brize Norton testing out the Mixed Reality Medical Emergency Response Team training concept developed by the HIT Team at BirminghamCurrently, defence medics train using fixed-location, expensive and low fidelity simulators. Experiences from recent international conflicts have identified the need to enhance future pre-deployment individual and small-team training by presenting them with operationally relevant simulated environments and tasks. 

The project began life in October 2016 , is the product of a unique unique research contract sponsored by the Medical Directorate of the UK’s Joint Medical Command via the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine. In the years that have followed, Professor Stone and the HIT Team have worked with armed forces personnel including those at RAF Brize Norton and to further refine the simulator and design simulated versions of different vessels, aircraft and vehicles. In summer 2019, the simulator will  undergo its next major set of trials are due to take place with multiple branches of the Armed Forces.

Professor Stone explained: “The way the teams communicated under conditions of stress and background noise, the cramped nature of the cabin, the range of medical equipment, the types of injuries experienced; all of these drove our decision to consider developing a very new Mixed Reality solution, blending the best of the virtual with actual physical elements representing the real.”

In the media

Asian Lite International - Virtual reality to train UK Armed Forces

Find out more at Medical Innovation 2018

Professor Stone will share insights and discuss the future of the MERT simulator at the Medical Innovation 2018 conference at Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham on 2 October 2018. Please watch the video to find out more about his session.