ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Using cutting-edge video game technology and animation, the U.S. Army and Homeland Security Department have developed a computer-based simulator that can train everyone from teachers to first responders on how to react to an active shooter scenario.
The training center is housed at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and offers numerous role-playing opportunities that can be used to train anyone in the world with a computer.
The $5.6 million program called the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE, is similar to those used by the Army to train soldiers in combat tactics and scenarios using a virtual environment.
Originally designed for police and fire agencies, the civilian version is now being expanded to schools.
“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,” said Tamara Griffith, a chief engineer for the project. “We want to teach teachers how to respond as first responders.”
Each character has numerous options, including someone playing the bad guy, said project manager Bob Walker. For example, each teacher has seven options on how to keep students safe, and some of the students in the program might not respond or be too afraid to react. So that becomes another problem to be solved.
“Once you hear the children, the screaming, it makes it very, very real,” Walker said.
“We have to worry about both children and adults being suspects,” Walker said.
Homeland Security officials say the school’s version should be ready for launch by spring.
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