An innovative training center in Hereford, U.K. puts front-line medical professionals through their paces in high-risk, high-pressure situations. Using ground-breaking training technology, it is designed to increase medical proficiency and physical and mental resilience in remote and hostile environments. 

From climatic extremes to post-conflict zones, the new Immersive Training Centre combines carefully replicated street scenes, professional actors, sound, weather and other special effects to provide first-hand experience of saving lives in high-stress locations, from a close protection rescue under fire, to a mass casualty incident in the chaos of a crowded city.

The first of its kind in Europe, this specialist facility has been created by Iqarus, a global provider of intelligent health solutions to organizations that need to operate safely in remote and difficult environments. It has been developed in collaboration with international emergency and rescue services, NGOs and the defense, health, security and energy sectors, and leverages Iqarus’ insight and experience delivering healthcare for clients in zero-failure tolerance environments.

Ged Healy, executive director of training and development at Iqarus believes the best way to improve front-line training is to replicate the intense pressures that responders will face. He commented: “It is one set of skills to work efficiently when confronted with a life-threatening injury. It’s another to keep your focus and perform effectively in a life-threatening situation.

“At Iqarus, we train thousands of people every year, many of whom work in mission-critical environments where even minor incidents can have major consequences. We know that the most effective training experience is a realistic experience. By combining battle-tested medical protocols with cutting-edge technologies, we’ve taken real-life simulation to a new level, creating the challenges of environmental extremes in a low-risk training space.” 

The 8,000 sq-ft of dynamic simulation space can be used to create bespoke training environments, with any scenario, anywhere in the world. Facilities include: 

•           Desert, jungle and arctic training rooms with simulated weather conditions and sound effects

•           A street scene with collapsed, two-story building, with explosive special effects, dust and smoke

•           A changeable street scene which transports users from Europe to the Middle East, and beyond

•           A burnt-out building with collapsed upstairs and flooding area

•           Realistic home structure with false wall, escape hatch and tunnel

•           Area for road traffic collision simulation

•           Stereo surround speakers with four sound zones

•           State-of-the-art cameras and a two-way communications system allowing trainees to work independently, without the support or intrusion of an instructor

•           Professional actors and accurate and realistic prosthetics

•           Overhead drones and HD CCTV throughout

Adds Ged Healy, “We’ve considered every detail, from the language on the labels in our "shop" to the mulch on the rainforest floor. It’s the most realistic training facility anywhere in Europe, and so far the feedback is extremely good.”