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7/21/2009
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Second Life Trains First Responders

The virtual world is being used by medical schools and other healthcare training programs to simulate medical emergencies so doctors and nurses can learn to make quick decisions.

The virtual world Second Life may owe its existence to gambling, and what the motion pictures industry coyly calls "adult situations," but one day people may owe their lives to medical skills learned in world.

Second Life is being used by medical schools and other healthcare training programs to simulate medical emergencies so doctors and nurses can learn to make quick decisions.

One demonstration, available on YouTube, shows an avatar of a male nurse administering an IV and medications and eventually giving CPR to a patient brought into an emergency room with chest pains.

Students can see and select medication from the dispenser and watch the instruments that monitor the patient's blood pressure and heart rhythms as he's being treated.

Data on the effectiveness of these programs is still being gathered, according to users at a couple of universities -- the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Imperial College London -- who talked to Discover Magazine.

The cost of such training may be lower, however, and students can remain in Second Life after a demonstration and discuss it.

Second Life has suffered some growing pains since it launched 10 years ago. In March of 2008, Second Life's creator Philip Rosedale stepped down as the CEO of Linden Lab so he could devote himself full time to "vision, strategy, and design," he wrote in his blog.

The virtual world had grown quickly, and its technology was occasionally taxed by too many users. It had also run into some regulatory conflicts with the physical world -- Linden Lab intervened at one point to restrict gambling in Second Life and also banned in-world banks after one collapsed and several others defaulted on loans.

When Rosedale stepped down, investor Mitch Kapor told the San Francisco Chronicle that Linden Lab's goal was to work on making Second Life easier to use so that more people would stick around and become regular users.

A new CEO, Mark Kingdon, was hired last spring.


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