Grown up game

A computer simulation uses videogame technology to train firefighters about how to respond to emergencies involving hazardous materials.

The Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at CarnegieMellonUniversityin collaboration with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) has developed Hazmat: Hotzone, a computer simulation that uses videogame technology to show firefighters how to respond to hazardous materials emergencies.

Hazmat: Hotzone begins with an instructor creating a training exercise by selecting a scenario and a hazard. Each firefighter situated at his own computer station then enters the virtual scene to investigate the situation, communicating over a radio link or face-to-face with his colleagues to safely guide civilians out of the hazardous area.

The key to the firefighters success depends on how well they take the proper precautions, make the best decisions and communicate as a team to save lives. After the exercise, the firefighters can review and critique the scenario, even playing back the key points.

Ultimately, Carnegie Mellon plans to turn Hazmat: Hotzone into a tool with enough depth and flexibility that it can be used at fire training centres across the US.

The software’s developers feel that the system should be distributed free of charge, so that the safety of a community is not limited by its training budget.

They hope to develop the system further, allowing medical professionals and police to be trained on it as well as firefighters.