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Australia Opens Virtual Aeromedical Evacuation Training Hub at Base Amberley

The Royal Australian Air Force has launched a mixed-reality training center at Base Amberley, Queensland, to upskill practitioners for aeromedical evacuation missions.

The Health Operational Conversion Unit prepares medics in emergency response protocols during in-flight transport of casualties under medical support between battlefields or treatment facilities.

Actual medical equipment in the project is combined with the BlueRoom, an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled virtual platform providing immersive, digital environments with realistic scenarios.

Victoria-based medical training provider Real Response developed the BlueRoom system. In 2021, the firm received a 669,000 Australian dollar ($430,400) initial contract to deliver the solution for the Australian Department of Defence.

‘Best Training Possible’

Flight Lieutenant Ben James, one of the leaders who oversaw the employment of the Health Operational Conversion Unit, underscored the effort’s necessity for nursing personnel, medics, and technicians serving on aeromedical crews.

“The facility will be utilised in both initial and continuation training for aeromedical evacuation teams, who are specialist retrieval nurses and medical officers for critically ill patients,” he stated.

“This technology also reduces the need to train on an actual aircraft and minimises the time our specialist reservists have to be away from their civilian career, whilst providing them with the best training possible.”

Commander Combat Support Group, Air Commodore Robert Graham (Centre) and Combat Support Group Sustainment Enterprise Manager, Brett Kleidon experience the new 'Blue Room' virtual trainer under the guidance of Flight Lieutenant Ben James (Right) at the Health Operational Conversion Unit RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. *** Local Caption *** Commander Combat Support Group, Air Commodore Robert Graham, officially opened the Health Operational Conversion Unit’s new ‘Blue Room’ in October.The Blue Room is a mixed-reality simulator used to train Air Force medical staff in on board aircraft medical operations and emergency medical evacuation. The ‘Blue Room’ is the first medical trainer of its kind in the ADF.
BlueRoom virtual aeromedical training system at the Health Operational Conversion Unit RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. Photo: ACW Nell Bradbury/Australian Department of Defence

Compatibility With Military Cargo Aircraft

The BlueRoom system is configured for aeromedical evacuation preparations, incorporating mixed-reality goggles and a chroma-key blue-screen technology used in movie special effects. The platform can be installed and operated on a C-130J Hercules military transport aircraft.

“A ‘real flight’ on a C-130J is conducted in a simulation that combines actual physical components of the cargo area of a C-130J and a virtual picture that results in a highly realistic simulation set-up,” James explained.

“This real-time simulation includes the noise you might hear while working in an on-board aircraft environment and even the vibration you would feel through the floor.”

“From this we are able to run any number of training scenarios from routine in-flight patient care through to full resuscitation scenarios.”

No. 37 Squadron C-130J Hercules A97-448 and A97-467 on the RAAF Base Richmond flightline. Both aircraft have been fitted with Ka-Band Satellite Communications antennas. *** Local Caption *** A second C-130J Hercules has been fitted with a Ka-Band Satellite Communications (SATCOM) antenna, providing aircrew and embarked personnel with high-speed data connectivity whilst on missions around the globe. The Ka-band SATCOM system was installed on C-130J A97-467, and follows an installation of the same system on A97-448 in 2017. Air Force plans to equip a total of six C-130Js with the SATCOM system, which can support live-streaming of high-definition video, in-flight mission planning, and coordination with headquarters and other nodes around the world.
No. 37 Squadron C-130J Hercules A97-448 and A97-467 on the RAAF Base Richmond flightline. Photo: CPL David Said/Australian Department of Defence

Modernizing Medical Upskilling

Air Commander Air Vice-Marshal Glen Braz provided an insight into the Amberley facility and the BlueRoom technology’s contribution to the service’s medical capabilities.

“This new BlueRoom takes our medical training to the next level,” Braz said.

“The experience this technology provides to our aviators is vitally important, particularly when our Air Force medical professionals can be called into any situation at a moment’s notice.”

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