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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Nicola Small

Ambulance crews get virtual-reality training to spot sexual abuse and domestic violence

Virtual reality headsets are being used to train ambulance crews on how to spot signs of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

The high-tech kit allows the 999 workers to be immersed in situations where vulnerable children and adults are in danger.

This helps them to see things from the perspective of the person who is at risk of abuse or neglect so they can truly understand the fear.

True-to-life scenarios filmed in 360-degree view using actors depict scenes from domestic violence, sexual exploitation, drug abuse, child grooming, modern slavery and gang intimidation.

In one scenario the ambulance worker is put in the shoes of a terrified child who is trapped in a dingy room with aggressive and violent parents.

London Ambulance Service is the first ambulance service in the country to use virtual reality technology for safeguarding training.

Among those who have already received the training is paramedic Patrick Hunter, who said: “I thought I was unshockable but this was really sobering to watch.

“I was shocked but necessarily so. Seeing things from a child’s perspective helps us to understand how integral safeguarding is to our practice.

“Sometimes children won’t engage with us or might seem rude but this training shows that behind certain behaviour there may be a very vulnerable child in need of our help.”

Ambulance workers are often the first people to identify children and adults at risk of abuse or neglect and make safeguarding referrals to appropriate agencies.

Alan Taylor, Head of Safeguarding at London Ambulance Service, said: “The immersive experience allows ambulance staff to see things from a patient’s perspective and to help understand the fear so they truly empathise with their patient.

“This gives our crews a greater understanding of how vulnerable patients may display signs of trauma and means they can better protect children and adults at risk.”

The videos and technology were developed by Antser, one of the leading health and social care technology providers in the UK.

The next goal is for bespoke scenarios to be developed for ambulance call handlers so they can help identify at-risk patients when taking 999 calls.

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