Protecting frontline workers from violence with VR active shooter training

Woman wearing a denim jacket and a VR headset holding a VR handset

We all feel very confident that lives were saved and seconds were gained.

Doug McMillon, CEO, Walmart

What would you do in an active shooter situation? It’s nearly impossible to imagine how you would feel and react. 

But what if you could find out? What if you could put yourself into the situation and experience the mental and emotional stress, all while remaining completely safe? This is the power of Virtual Reality. 

In VR, we’ve created an emotional, real, and memorable way for the workforce to experience and practice handling an active shooter situation. The lump in your throat as you hear the first gunshots. The split-second decision-making while under duress. The relief of safety.

It’s why safety and risk management leaders are turning to training in VR for active shooter preparedness in the workforce. After all, crisis management is about preparation and confidence, which in turn protects life.

Why VR for active shooter training?

It’s important to understand how Immersive Learning in VR is a powerful tool for active shooter training. Immersive Learning is an experiential training methodology that uses Virtual Reality (VR) to simulate real-world scenarios and train employees in a safe and engaging immersive training environment.

It’s one thing to talk about safety and security for your employees. It’s another thing to bring that idea to life.

Michael Mason, Senior VP & Chief Security Officer, Verizon

These scenarios fully immerse a learner in the sights and sounds of their workspace: customer interactions on a store floor, colleagues in an office, forklifts and conveyor belts in a distribution center. This mentally and physically prepares the learner to experience real life scenarios they will face at work. 

The approach is based on decades of neuroscience research, which indicated that the brain treats VR experiences just like it would treat real life. In other words, how a person acts and reacts in a simulated active shooter VR training experience is a close indicator of how they’ll act and react in a real active shooter situation. While an active shooter situation is hard to replicate, simulation in VR is the best way to recreate it.

In addition, the VR-based training experience can take place anywhere–in the safety of your store, warehouse, or office. Being able to see, hear, and react to the scenario gives the employee a chance to be better prepared to manage this kind of crisis. 

Effective training requires practice and repetition. With an immersive training tool such as VR, your employees can go through this active shooter response training as many times as they want until they feel confident. After going through the robbery training scenario a few times, 97% of Verizon employees felt prepared for dangerous situations.

Immersive Learning is not only effective as an active shooter preparedness tool, but it also saves lives.

How Strivr is helping companies leverage VR for active shooter preparedness training

Some organizations, such as Walmart and Verizon, have developed their own methodology for active shooter training. In these cases, we’ve taken their methodology and tailored custom experiences to help teach their key principles and allow practice with them. 

In the headset, learners are on the store floor interacting with customers; in certain robbery training scenarios, they are opening or closing the store for the day. As unexpectedly as it could happen in real life, an armed attacker enters the scene: learners hear gunfire, see people ducking and running, and immediately feel the stress of the situation.

At this point, the learning begins. How do you react initially? Where should you go and what do you need to pay attention to? How do you remain safe? Employees are guided through the company’s methodology for how to take the right actions, and in the virtual world, they experience actually doing it. 

Many organizations do not have their own methodology, which is why Strivr has partnered with Strategos, a leading consultancy, to develop a pre-built immersive content module that teaches the 3-OUT method: get out, lock out, and take out.

The technique provides guidelines, tactics, and best practices for responding to a potentially life-threatening armed attacker scenario. Importantly, the VR experience offers mental, physical, and emotional reps for a high stress situation.

VR active shooter training saves lives

Unfortunately, active shooter situations are something we have to prepare ourselves and our employees for. It’s important to make people feel safe where they work, and one of the best ways to help prepare and protect employees is through effective training.

Immersive Learning in VR is engaging, memorable, and effective, and it works on a broad scale across thousands of employees.

If you want to try it for yourself, Strivr offers at-home demos that allow you to take Immersive Learning for your own personal test drive and determine if this is the right solution for you. 

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