Westmead team receives $50,000 grant from gaming giant for heart attack simulator

Nathan Moore uses one of the VR headsets with the ALS program running inset.

The engine behind action scenes in The Mandalorian and blockbuster video games including Rocket League is throwing its weight behind an innovative health training program at Westmead Hospital.

ALS Sim-VR – a virtual reality program designed to train nurses and doctors in critical decisions – is the recipient of an Epic MegaGrant from Epic Games.

ALS stands for advanced life support – a set of skills needed in any hospital setting to save someone suffering cardiac arrest.

The ‘player’ must control a virtual team trying to assist a patient suffering from cardiac arrest.

The virtual reality program allows people to pull on a headset in the location of their choice and practice their skills in real time, making quick decisions to ultimately save a patient’s life.

The American company behind incredibly successful Unreal Engine and video games including Rocket League have fronted up US$50,000 for the team at Westmead.

The grant also provides money-can’t-buy access to Epic Games’ team of programmers, engineers and designers for troubleshooting and development.

The simulation happens in real-time so every decision must be made quickly.

This support could significantly expand the capabilities of the training program, according to Nathan Moore – digital innovation lead at Western Sydney Local Health District’s Research and Education Network.

“We are really proud of what we have created on a relatively small budget with ALS Sim-VR so I’m very excited to take it to the next level with this grant.

“The opportunity to utilise this powerful software and work with leading minds in the industry will allow us to truly revolutionise our virtual reality training.”

Nathan Moore

The program was developed by Nathan Moore and Martin Brown from the University of Sydney’s Westmead Initiative. The pair have also worked together on other virtual reality training programs including Code Black, which trains frontline workers in de-escalation techniques with agitated patients and visitors.

The team is working on other training applications for the futuristic technology, including areas such as clinical handover and undergraduate education.

“We have a great partnership with our developer, so we’re getting really great value for money with this program and its many potential uses,” Nathan said.

“It’s exciting to see people around the world taking notice of what we’re doing here in western Sydney. We are leading the way in embracing new technologies to improve the way we train healthcare staff, and ultimately improve patient care.”

Learn more about cutting-edge virtual reality education and training at WSLHD here.