Firefighting is a dangerous and difficult task. Simulation affords researchers and practitioners the ability to examine performance and training in adverse conditions while preserving life, offering repeatable scenarios, and reducing costs. Multiple Resource Theory is used in this study as a model for assessing alternate sensory channels for information delivery when the optimal channel is not available. Specifically, this study tests the influence of a waist-worn vibrotactile display to assist navigation when visibility is reduced in a firefighter simulation. The present study measures participants' objective performance and self-reported workload while navigating a simulated fireground. Results from 70 research participants revealed statistically significant differences between the experimental and control conditions for completion time and overall workload scores. Workload and performance emerged as significantly correlated in both the experimental and control conditions; however, no statistically significant correlations were found for the spatial anxiety hypotheses. The results of this study indicate that participants engaged in a simulated search and rescue task in a low visibility environment benefit from the assistance of a vibrotactile display as a tool. Participants' performance scores and self-reports show that they had more mental resources to engage in the search and rescue task more quickly when assisted by a vibrotactile tool. Evidence was found to demonstrate a statistically significant association between workload and performance. The implications of this study have real world consequences for training for dangerous tasks to maximize performance and save lives while minimizing risks to personnel.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Modeling and Simulation
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Schwartz, Michael, "The Effects of a Tactile Display on First Responder Performance" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 927.