Valley police use virtual reality to train for emergencies

LEWISBURG — Members of both the Buffalo Valley Regional Police and the Union County Sheriff’s Department will take to the streets with even more training after dealing with countless emergency situations in virtual reality.

On Tuesday, former state trooper Scott Davis, now an instructor for Emergency Response Training & Certification Association, (ERTCA) of State College, taught members of the police department and sheriff’s department on up-to-date real-life situations, including active shooters , during a training session held through virtual reality glasses.

ERTCA, which was established in 2019, is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit that works with corporations, academic institutions and state and federal enforcement granting organizations to transform law education, training and innovation, according to its website.

ERTCA’s free workforce education programming is conducted both in-person and via distance learning in an effort to standardize educational outcomes that produce more reliable data that reduce the overall risks to public safety, the website states.

Davis, who also works as a part-time officer in Milton, led the way Tuesday and took various law enforcement officials through scenarios.

“This is great training as it shows different real situations for the officer to see,” he said.

Union County Deputy Sheriff Trey Toland trained for an active shooter incident inside a school through the virtual reality glasses, which depicted a full 360-degree view of a school with simulated people running and two active shooters inside.

Toland walked through the classroom at the William Cameron Fire Department, in Lewisburg, while Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department Cpl. Dave Jones guided him.

“I liked this training as it showed these situations,” Toland said. “It looked very real.”

Davis controls the situation from a computer and even has the ability to pick various statements made by perpetrators.

“There are so many situations and having the ability to replay exactly what happened and how the officer reacted is a big part of the training,” he said.

The equipment used is mobile tower units that communicate with the virtual reality equipment while the law enforcement official is walking through the scenario.

“We will continue to get these real-life situations added to the training,” Davis said.

Jones said he also found the training to be helpful.

“These are great because it gives the real-life situation that an officer may find themselves in,” he said.

Davis said the training is paid for through grants and he encourages any police department or school police department to contact ERTCA for training.

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