Interactive Media Systems, TU Wien

Virtual Simulation and On-Site Training for First Responders

Research project in the area of Virtual and Augmented Reality.

Keywords: Virtual Reality, Immersive, First Responders, Training, Multi-User, Collaboration.

About this Project

The project’s goal is to develop and evaluate the first fully mobile, generic, multi-user immersive virtual reality platform to train squad leaders of first responder units, such as fire brigades, paramedics, police forces and other disaster relief units. It will be specifically designed to train squad leaders upon arrival at the disaster site. We intend to design and develop a highly versatile, mobile setup to allow quick deployment at different real-world locations.

Project Partners

M²D MasterMind Development GmbH

Funding provided by


Additional Information

Immserve Virtual Reality Training 

VRONSITE Hardware Prototype


Over the past decade, VR-based training in disaster preparedness has been increasingly recognized as an important adjunct to traditional modalities of real-life drills. Multiple studies have highlighted VR applications in disaster training. This increased practice realism enables responders to gauge their individual and/or team’s ability to execute tasks and decision-making under more closely representative conditions. In essence, the immersive environment incorporated in VR-based training and exercise applications not only offers the realism that classroom-based instructive teaching lacks, but also may reduce the time and cost burden that real-life drills and tabletop exercises can place on participating organizations. Using VR technology, training can be provided in a controlled setting that mimic real-life situations as closely as possible and that can be repeated unlimited times. Repetition time as well as the feeling of presence that is provided in VR both have positive effects on task performance, enabling the learning situation to be experienced as a real context. This in turn promotes experiential learning as well as the development of operational and formal thinking by facilitating the exploration of different possibilities.

Project Results

We have developed a fully immersive virtual training environment to train commanders of a first responder squads upon arrival at the emergency site. The full command-do-act-check cycle can be trained within a number of developed training scenarios that are tailored to the needs of fire fighters and paramedics. The entire immserive VR setup is fully untethered and features a stereoscopic Head Mounted Display (Samsung Gear VR), different means for navigation (joystick, omni-directional treadmill) and 3D virtual object interaction. As core processing unit, a Samsung Galaxy S6 is used for 3D rendering and processing of all user input data, which is wirelessly transmitted from Stratus XL Gamepad or the Cyberith Virtualizer. . 


HMD + fire helmet

Training of on-site squad leaders can be done as single user or as a distributed multi-user training, which allows interdisciplinary training of different first responder units. The operator view allows a trainer to view the participant's actions at run-time, as well as to interact in 3D with the training scene, i.e. by placing additional objects into the virtual environment. The 3D after action review module allows to re-play the training experience by showing among others the participants' movements, 3D interactions and sound. The after action review enhances the de-briefing session as well as the training evaluation.


We have run extensive user-driven evaluations with more than 100 participants (Voluntary Fire Brigade in Austria, Fire Brigade School Telfs, Paramedics Johanniter Wien, Paramedics Johanniter Tirol) in September 2016, March 2017, and May 2017. The user studies focused on influence of navigational input and leadership role and evaluated ease of use, task load, immersive perception, decision making and command execution.

VRONSITE MultiUser Training VRONSITE MultiUser After Action Review
Multi-user training of fire brigade (Telf/Tyrol) After action review module
VRONSITE MultiUser Trainer View VRONSITE MultiUser Training Johanniter
Live operator module for trainer Multi-user training of paramedics (Johanniter Innsbruck)


VROnSite was featured by ORF Newton on Sept 9th 2017, (c) ORF.