The US Air Force’s Air Mobility Command (AMC) is currently testing one of four virtual reality (VR) suicide prevention training scenarios.
The Airman-to-Airman VR training module is being piloted at Scott Air Force Base (AFB) and Travis AFB.
These two bases are using VR to teach airmen how to talk to someone who might be suicidal.
AMC suicide prevention programme manager and VR suicide prevention contract owner Victor Jones said: “The goal of this training experience is to provide airmen, at all levels, the tools that will enable them to recognise a distressed airman, have a difficult conversation and guide that airman to safety.
“From my past experiences facilitating suicide prevention training, I have always wondered if the trainees would be able to apply the soft skills that were being taught in the classroom into a real-world situation.”
Last month, the USAF 60th Air Mobility Wing (60 AMW) at Travis AFB participated in a VR suicide prevention training programme.
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Air Force Installation Contracting Center (AFICC) contracting officer Kaitlyn Woodruff, who is undertaking the training, said that the use of VR allows training airmen effectively on suicide prevention.
Moth+Flame was awarded a contract through the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) to invest in the idea.
Under the contract, Moth+Flame provided the airforce with four training scenarios and 50 headsets for the tests at Scott and Travis AFBs.
The company also provides ‘real-time positive and negative feedback’ from users about the VR content to the programme managers of the AMC.
Woodruff and contract specialist Jena Bowman expedited the SBIR process within 60 days of the contract award alongside AFICC’s 763rd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron.
Woodruff said: “Our unit built and awarded the contract that allowed this amazing technology to be developed and distributed for airforce use as soon as possible.
“We received the requirement in August of 2020 and had it awarded by the end of September. Normally acquisitions of this magnitude take at least a year.”