Technology

Engineers design computer simulator that can help prepare teachers for ‘real-life' shooter scenarios

The team used cutting-edge gaming technology to create a program that can train school employees on how to save lives.

A computer-based simulator that can train teachers on how to save lives when an armed attacker bursts through a school door has been developed in the US.

Engineers working for the US Army and Homeland Security Department created the simulator using cutting-edge gaming technology which could help train teachers on how to respond during an active shooter scenario.

Known as the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE for short, the virtual simulator is similar to those used by the army to train soldiers for combat.

Tamara Griffith, a chief engineer for the project, told the Associated Press: “With teachers, they did not self-select into a role where they expect to have bullets flying near them. Unfortunately, it’s becoming a reality.

“We want to teach teachers how to respond as first responders.”

Originally designed for police and fire agencies, the civilian version, which cost 5.6 million dollars to make, is now being expanded to schools to allow teachers and other school personnel to train for active shooters alongside first responders.

According to Homeland Security officials, the schools version should be ready for launch by spring.

In EDGE, each character has numerous options, including someone playing the bad guy, according to project manager Bob Walker.

For example, each teacher has seven options on how to keep students safe, and some of the students might not respond or be too afraid to react.

Walker added: “Once you hear the children, the screaming, it makes it very, very real.”

Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings
The developers talked to the mother of a child who was killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 (Sean Dempsey/PA)

EDGE’s creators listened to real dispatch tapes to understand the confusion and chaos that goes along with such frightening situations.

They also talked to the mother of a child killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, who walked them through everything that happened that tragic day.

Griffith said: “It gives you chills when you think about what’s happening on those tapes.

“It tore us apart to listen to her and what she went through.”

Amanda Klinger, director of operations for the non-profit Educators School Safety Network, said: “I hope that people will sort of see this simulation as a really cool and engaging way to think about school safety.”

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