Tuesday 20 August 2019

'Two people trapped, two fatalities. Two ambulances...'

Virtual reality experience shows consequences of drink-driving

Lifelike: Students using the RSA’s virtual reality education tool
Lifelike: Students using the RSA’s virtual reality education tool

RSA expert

I'm upside down. It's dark. I can see flashing lights, from sirens, lots of them. I hear them too.

I look around and can see the front-seat passenger is upside down beside me.

He's being held in place by his seatbelt. His arms are hanging down, splayed out on the roof of the car.

He's not moving. He looks unconscious. I can hear a voice from outside the car.

It's faint but I can make out what's being said.

I think it's a garda. "…two car RTC, two persons trapped, two fatalities. Two ambulances required."

I can hear footsteps moving towards me. Someone is crouching down, shining a torch, to look into my side window.

It's a firefighter. He's leaning in. "OK don't move. Don't worry. Everything is going to be OK. Help's here, we're going to get you out."

Everything goes blurry for a couple of seconds and comes back into focus again.

It's really bright.

I'm lying in the back of an ambulance.

I can see two paramedics.

One walks over to me. "OK, my name is Siobhán. I'm a paramedic and you've been involved in a collision."

She takes a small torch out of her pocket. She asks me to follow the light and waves it from side to side across my eye line.

She's checking my arms and says that she is going to go down my torso. I'm to tell her if I can feel any sensation. When she reaches my legs, she looks at her colleague, shakes her head.

"Suspected spinal."

OK, I had better stop now. Nobody has been killed or injured. I haven't been in a crash.

Thank God.

But I tell you, it's the closest thing to experiencing one.

I'm actually wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset and trying out the Road Safety Authority's new educational tool called Consequences.

It's a 360-degree immersive video that's amazingly lifelike and allows you to experience what it's like to be involved in a crash.

In this case, the crash was said to have happened as a result of drink driving.

It's filmed from the user's point of view.

The VR film shows how the repercussions of being in a drink-driving crash play out.

In my case, it was being cut out of a car, transferred to an ambulance and then sitting at home in a wheelchair - a paraplegic.

Another storyline puts you standing in front of a judge who is sentencing you to a prison term.

In the final scene you're in a cell as the door is slammed shut behind you.

You can view a trailer for Consequences on the RSA's YouTube page.

Or you can experience the whole thing for yourself on your phone using Google cardboard goggles by visiting rsavronline.com.

Irish Independent

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