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“Sad and horrifying” only begins to describe the state of affairs when businesses need to train their employees for so-called active shooter scenarios — situations where a disgruntled individual turns a workplace into a shooting gallery. But that’s how Pixvana is pitching its new Active Shooter Response training experience, which uses virtual reality to better prepare people to react in the event that this nightmare plays out in their offices.

Co-developed with tactical training company Alexo, the VR training system uses instructional videos and interactive quizzes to equip employees with the information and time-sensitive decision-making skills they’ll need to deal with a live shooter. The videos feature 25-year law enforcement vet Drew Hancock, including virtual simulations of different types of active shooter scenarios across varied locations, while lessons teach warning signs, safety concepts, and life-saving tactics.

“Virtual reality is extremely effective for teaching situational awareness and life-saving response for an active shooter scenario,” explained Hancock. “Actually simulating and experiencing different scenarios can increase comprehension and response time, which could be all the difference. VR provides employees with valuable practice that cannot be replicated in typical training.”

The standard version of the training is designed to be deployed in any business, but the companies are offering customized versions for specific locations, layouts, and industries — for a “small incremental investment.” Pixvana notes that the first business to trial the service, the late Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s company Vulcan, suggested a 32% increase in employee readiness for an active shooter situation. Vulcan is one of the company’s key backers, alongside Microsoft, Cisco, and Hearst Ventures.


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Thanks to the continued availability of high-powered guns and a surge in domestic terrorists, active shooter scenarios have become considerably more common in recent years throughout U.S. businesses and schools. Games seeking to trade on the tragedies have been blocked from some distribution channels, while the real-life weapons remain widely available.


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