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VIRTUAL reality technology is being used to train Victorian workers to treat snake bites in a world-first lifesaving effort.
Melbourne Water has recruited Deakin University to train its staff in snake bite prevention and first aid as part of the hi-tech program.
It comes with ‘snake season’— those warmer months when the dangerous, cold-blooded reptiles become more active — in full swing.
Deakin University VR Lab director Ben Horan, who is leading a joint effort involving staff and students to develop the virtual reality training tool, told the Herald Sun: “Trainees will simply slip on a portable VR headset and be immersed in an engaging and interactive scenario where they can learn the right skills to treat someone who has suffered a snake bite.
“Trainees will receive training within the virtual scenario environment and then be asked to deliver first-aid on the virtual snake bite victim.
The program will be used to help trainees learn to properly fold bandages and apply the correct pressure to the wound.
Melbourne Water safety manager Scott McMillan said there were an estimated 3000 snake bites in Australia each year.
“Our staff and contractors regularly work in pairs in very remote locations in catchments and around waterways, where there is a real risk of being bitten by a snake,” he said.
The technology had the potential to be expanded to other public services, with community members also looking to get their fangs into the new equipment.
“We’ll also be looking to educate and train community groups to better understand how to prevent snake bites, as well as the correct first aid techniques if a bite occurs,” Mr McMillan said.
Twenty of the world’s 25 most venomous snakes are found in Australia.