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Team Fairchild SAPR provides new virtual reality training for Airmen

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Farrell Thomas III, 92nd Comptroller Squadron command support staff, tests the new Sexual Assault Prevention and Response virtual reality training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Oct. 27, 2021. The SAPR VR training comes from Air Mobility Command, and is designed to provide Airmen a hands-on experience with a situation they may have never been exposed to. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Gomez

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Farrell Thomas III, 92nd Comptroller Squadron command support staff, tests the new Sexual Assault Prevention and Response virtual reality training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Oct. 27, 2021. The SAPR VR training comes from Air Mobility Command, and is designed to provide Airmen a hands-on experience with a situation they may have never been exposed to. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Gomez

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Team Fairchild’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit implemented a new virtual reality training to continue to prepare Airmen in recognizing and assisting victims of sexual assault.

The SAPR VR training comes from Air Mobility Command, and is designed to provide Airmen a hands-on experience with a situation they may have never been exposed to.

“For those who have never had to help a sexual assault victim, this training helps them see what a sexual assault response might look like, and it also gives them options on what to say,” said Jessica Bradshaw, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “So if at that moment they don’t know what to say, or they feel they might say the wrong thing, this training helps them pick out what would be appropriate.”

Typical SAPR training involves a briefer and a presentation filled with videos and scenarios that require attendees to engage with one another on how to properly assist and guide victims of sexual assault to the correct resources. With VR training, the goal of helping victims remains the same, instead using a different teaching engagement for different types of learners.

“It’s a chance to be put in that situation, but still have a controlled environment,” said Master Sgt. Erica Northam, 92nd Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor and VR training participant. “We’ve sat through briefings and done small groups for these things before, but until you’re forced to say those words in the training, they’re just words and [in reality] those words can be the hardest to say.”

SAPR training and suicide prevention training now join the list as new optional forms of virtual resiliency and prevention training to be implemented throughout AMC, providing Airmen an alternative that can help them fully understand how to support Airmen in need of assistance.

“I hope that people get a different outlook on the training,” Bradshaw said. “Maybe they’ll have their ‘ah-ha’ moment, like, oh this is how I could talk to someone in this situation or if anyone has been in this situation and they felt like maybe they hadn’t responded appropriately, now they have an idea of how to handle it in the future.”

By implementing innovations and advancements to training through technologies like virtual reality, Team Fairchild can continue to ensure the readiness, safety and well-being of its Airmen executing the Rapid Global Mobility mission.