Using virtual reality to prepare for a workplace shooting

VIDEO: Using virtual reality to prepare for a workplace shooting

A Seattle company is giving employees a chance to practice for an active shooting at work.

Pixvana, located in Fremont, created a virtual reality active shooter training. It uses the Oculus virtual reality headset and can transport users into a shooting scenario.

The scenario was created with Alexo Corporation, a Seattle company comprised of currently active law enforcement professionals who specialize in tactical situations and training.

Content Continues Below

The training starts by educating users about what to do, how to survey a room, find ways to escape, barricade, and fight back.

Then it gives them a chance to see what they would do.

The gunman is a nondescript figure.

"One of the balances we had to go through was playing with how real we wanted make it, how scary. Because an active shooter, let's just be honest here, it's really scary," said Aaron Rhodes who created the VR experience at Pixvana.

Pixvana trained employees at Vulcan and KIRO-7 was there when people who work out of The Riveter on Capitol Hill gave it a try.

Users put on the headset and were transported into an office environment.

"When you put the headset on it has what we call superpowers,' which is this idea of presence where your brain is telling you you are present in that space," explained Rachel Lanham, 
the chief operating officer at Pixvana.

Sheena Camagong gave it a try.

She helped arrange the training at The Riveter. "I have a young daughter myself. If our young kids are learning how to drill in their schools on how to be prepared we should be doing that in our work," said Camagong after the training.

Tucker Davey tested it out. The 26 year-old says he's grown up wondering if he'd encounter a gunman. 
"I usually envision these things a lot in a classroom or a meeting. What would happen if someone came in. How I'd go out a certain door and come back in and try to tackle the shooter or something," explained Davey.

The VR training also has measurable results. Workers are asked how prepared they feel they are before and after the virtual reality training which lasts about 20 minutes.

Davey thought he felt more prepared after the training but didn't want to overestimate just how ready, "It's hard to know if I would freeze in real life. You can't really know until it happens."

The cost of the training varies on how many people would need headsets and whether or not an employee from Alexo would come give a presentation at the same time.

More news from KIRO 7