Serious Games

Triage Trainer Game Developed for Emergency Responders

Triage Trainer ScreenCreated by TruSim, a serious game developer from the UK, Triage Trainer is a prototype designed to train first responders on how to prioritize medical care during a major catastrophe. The idea for the game came in 2006 as a research project commissioned by the UK's Ministry of Defence to train field-hospital personnel in conflict zones. Developed first for the PC, the game would be easily adaptable to other consoles.

Triage Trainer takes players to a city ravaged by a bomb blast. First taking a look around the scene, players will need to identify who needs urgent attention. The game generates random victims dispersed across the landscape, suffering various injuries: exposed organs and bones, profuse nosebleeds, someone lying face up with no external injuries or deceased individuals. Read More...

Players start by asking everyone who can walk to go to the ambulance crews – a procedure named a “mobility sieve”. Emergency respondents can then focus on those remaining, who are too injured to move on their own.

Players will approach casualties and enter an "examination mode" which offers five triage options: Talking to the victim to see if they can talk back; check their airway, breathing rate or pulse rate; and perform a capillary refill check for blood flow (by checking the time it takes for the color to return to the flesh after skin is pinched on a finger.)

After taking these steps, the first respondent must label the victim by priority: P1, immediate; P2, urgent; P3, delayed; or P4, deceased. The game scores players' decisions after they've tagged all casualties, informing them if their actions were correct in each case.

“We've not only worked with the medical experts and the training experts, but we have gone further, having produced this prototype to begin double-blind tests to see whether people actually do genuinely improve their performances in tests and [the] kind of retention with this kind of training," said Jolyon Webb, an art manager for TruSim, in an interview.

The company has been compiling data to assess video game prototype's performance to see if it's ready to take to market, possibly internationally "It is actually showing an improvement in retention of information from the group that did the training for the software, and also an improvement with accuracy and speed," said Webb.

Benefits of the game include giving students a more immediate feel for actual medical emergencies, compared to traditional training exercises where medical students pretend to be injured.

"They can't make themselves pale. They can't give themselves shallow breathing," said Webb. "They can't kind of force adrenaline to their system to make them sweat. They just have to tell you that ‘I'm sweaty. I'm kind of feeling very pale and faint.' With a digital character, you can actually make all of those things explicit and show them to people."

The game would become a training tool for various medical professionals, including first responders, hospital personnel, law enforcement officials and firefighters. A demo of Triage Trainer can be viewed at TruSim's homepage.