Award Abstract #2028077

RAPID: A Virtual Reality simulator to train first responders involved in health care efforts related to the COVID-19 virus outbreak

NSF Directorate:
CSE - Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
NSF Division:

Division of Information and Intelligent Systems

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Program Manager:

Balakrishnan Prabhakaran

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J. Cecil [email protected] (Principal Investigator)


Oklahoma State University

NSF Program:
HCC-Human-Centered Computing
COVID-19 Research
EPSCoR - Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Funding
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All health-care workers may not have the necessary background and training to handle contagious diseases, and different contagious diseases need different types of precautions to be taken. In this context, training these responders to handle the novel virus COVID-19 infected patients become paramount. This project involves the creation of a Virtual Reality based simulation environment to support training of first responders including nurses in hospitals, communities, and cities in the US in order to respond more effectively to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The COVID-19 virus pandemic has placed an overwhelming strain on the Nation's ability to treat patients; the number of patients who need to be tested continues to rise (and is expected to increase substantially in the coming weeks and months). Currently, there is an urgent need to train such responders (nurses, physician assistants and others) to perform the screening/testing activities in a methodical, safe and efficient manner. By creating a Virtual Reality simulator for such training, this project will accomplish two objectives: (i) increase the pool of first responders involved in COVID-19 testing; and (ii) develop a more effective process to train and prepare such first responders. The simulator's training modules will also be used to introduce university students to the process of designing and building such Virtual Reality simulators for medical and healthcare contexts.

With the number of COVID-19 patients continuing to increase rapidly, it is critical that the Nation have a larger pool of trained first responders. The creation of such a Virtual Reality training simulator will address this urgent need. This innovative simulator will provide a user-friendly and effective training experience for the nurses and other health care assistants to perform various triage-related screening and testing activities. An interdisciplinary team of researchers including first responders, nurses and triage coordinators (from a hospital partner) will collaborate in a unique participatory design-based approach to designing and building this training simulator. With the involvement of COVID-19 first responders and medical specialists, an information centric process model (ICPM) will be created that captures the functional and temporal relationships of various activities involved in the triage-based patient interaction process including screening, testing, and treatment. The creation of such an ICPM will provide a robust and structured foundation to create the simulation environments, which will be distributed to hospitals nationwide. On-line workshops will be held (after creation of this simulator) to help with the use of this simulator by hospitals and clinics. Conference and workshop papers targeting medical and healthcare professionals will be presented to highlight the design and use of this training simulator.

This project is co-funded by the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.