The Role of Virtual Simulation in Incident Commander Education – A field study


  • Cecilia Hammer Wijkmark Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
  • Maria Monika Metallinou Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
  • Ilona Heldal Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
  • Sune Fankvist The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency


The use of Virtual Simulation (VS) for emergency management and Incident Commander (IC) training and assessment has spread during the last decade. In VS, ICs act in computer-simulated 3D incident scenarios, e.g. fire incidents, road traffic collisions etc. Even though VS provides several benefits, there is a history of hesitation to implement and apply it in emergency education. This paper presents the results of a field study performed during the VS training in four classes of IC-students (90 students). The research focus was on the IC students` attitudes and experiences of VS training. Data were collected through observations and post-training questionnaires. The results show that students are predominantly positive towards virtual simulation. 72% of the IC-students state that they experienced presence to the same extent as in live simulation settings, where they experience high presence. Earlier, photorealism was considered to be necessary to provide virtual learning places with high experiences. According to this study, this is not equally important on a general base. The results argue for the benefits of using VS in IC training, even if there are challenges with the implementation. Furthermore, it contributes to a better understanding of user experiences and realism in VS training compared to live simulation.