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3D virtual reality to train firefighters called to intervene during earthquakes and natural disasters. The results of the VRescue project, a collaboration between Scuola Sant'Anna, the Pisa fire fighters and the Pisa Foundation

Publication date: 09.11.2022
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Virtual reality supports the training of firefighters called to intervene in emergency situations caused by earthquakes and natural disasters. The results of the VRescue project, funded by the Pisa Foundation and implemented by the Institute of Mechanics Intelligence of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa with the contribution of the Pisa Fire Brigade, were presented during a press conference. VRescue has developed an application of virtual environments for the immersive training of Usar (Urban Search and Rescue) teams of the National Fire Brigade Corps.

Virtual reality for first intervention and beyond

VRescue (an acronym for 'Study, design and realisation of a highly immersive 3D virtual environment for the training and education of fire brigade officers for USAR assesment intervention in earthquake-affected areas') will enable fire brigade emergency personnel to have at their disposal a training tool capable of simulating realistic situations of catastrophic events. The system is intended for the immersive training of fire brigade first response teams, called to operate in scenarios where an earthquake has just occurred, but it is also aimed at observing and exploring a scenario and gathering useful information for a subsequent intervention phase. Using an immersive visor, the user is placed in urban scenarios that include different types of collapse and problems.

The collaboration between Scuola Sant'Anna, Fondazione Pisa and the Fire Brigade

The Pisa Fire Department is one of the most important training and education centres nationwide. Thanks to funding from the Pisa Foundation, various training modules have been built over time to simulate realistic situations of catastrophic events. The VRescue project adds another piece thanks to the expertise of the Istituto di Intelligenza Meccanica della Scuola Sant'Anna in the development of advanced visualisation and immersive interaction solutions. The VRescue system was designed with the coordination of the Fire Department, which defined the choices for the three-dimensional modelling of the collapsed buildings and the storyboard of the various scenarios, with the aim of making them as close to reality as possible.