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Doctors using virtual reality to teach how to save people during medical emergencies

A drug overdose, allergic reaction, insulin shock -- doctors at the University of Pittsburgh are using virtual reality to teach lifesaving techniques when people have medical emergencies.

Inside the Wiser Institute at Pitt, there are simulated heart ultrasounds and lifesaving emergency room scenarios.  But inside another room, the institute is redefining how a person who no medical background could one day save a life.

"We're going to take this to the public," said Dr. Bill McIvor. "It's far easier for us to take a computer to the people."

Channel 11 got an exclusive look at McIvor's virtual reality initiative. It uses 3D to teach everything from how to help a diabetic having an episode to administering naloxone to an overdose patient.


Medical student Angelica Escobar demonstrated one situation where a person is found laying in a basement.  It's up to Escobar to determine what to do.  She decided to call 911 and used Narcan on the patient, even though she's not sure what is wrong with the victim.

"It was really helpful to give them feedback that naloxone really can't hurt somebody, even if it's not an opioid overdose.  You should go ahead and give it anyway," McIvor instructed.

Escobar said the training provided valuable information.

"It makes something that is very scary, that can be very daunting, it makes it more approachable in a safe environment," Escobar added.

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Channel 11 morning anchor Katherine Amenta went through the training and chose a simulation of a student suffering a diabetic situation.

"Oh wow," Amenta said while going through the situation.  "It's like you're in the room."

McIvor's next step is to take the program to schools and more remote Pennsylvania communities.  He hopes to add more scenarios such as an attack at a school and a victim who suffers a heart attack.

For more information on the program, call the Wiser Institute at 412-648-6073.