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Bioelectronic telemetry system for fire fighter safety.

Masterman M
Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, R44-OH-007673, 2011 Oct; :1-19
Every year a large number of firefighters are killed while on duty and the main purpose of this SBIR was to assist in the reduction of deaths for fire fighters and to address the occupational safety and health issues among firefighters. This SBIR research was targeted toward the development of a device to monitor the physiology and environment of a fire fighter. This technology is targeting prevention of deaths caused by overexertion and entrapment, which make up 60 to 70% of all firefighter deaths on an annual basis. The design of this personal monitoring system was done to allow firefighters to perform their duties in an efficient and productive manner as possible, the technology could not interfere with the fire fighters normal job duties. Our approach was to design a state-of-the-art platform embedded in the fire fighter's turnout gear that utilized technology transferred from Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Aberdeen Maryland. Modifications were performed on gel coupled acoustical sensors to mount inside of the wrist cuff of a fire coat and which gave this sensor significant stabilization. The processing used one of the most powerful Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processors to provide computing power for running complex algorithms on board the fire fighter that extracted heart rate information from the wrist of the fire fighter. This innovative use of wearable computing power was featured in the Texas Instruments 2006 User Conference as a Key note demo. The data, processing and the resulting information detailing the well being of the fire fighter is useless, unless there is a means to use that data and intervene if needed. A software defined radio was developed with this project to allow for more reliable transmission of data out of the burning building and insure data transmission. The research from Phase I of this project showed considerable multi-path issues created from a fire burning inside of a structure. The development scheme is to design a multiple frequency radio that can automatically switch frequencies. However. the scope of this project was limited which lead to the development of only one frequency of operation, with the plan to include other frequencies as the project enters into phase III. Some of the issues as to why Extreme Endeavors is developing a software defined radio for this application are just now being addressed by The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). The IAFC has received reports of firefighters experiencing unintelligible audio communications while using a digital two-way portable radio when operating in close proximity to equipment and fires. Through all the technological advancement and processing power embedded in the coat, what attracts most of the fire industry to our technology is the methodology behind the sensing and there is no different to how the fire fighter dawns their gear with this system. They will never know this technology exists. Other systems on the market today are impractical for the fire industry because they involve adhesives or invasive sensor technology.
Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Health-hazards; Health-protection; Physiology; Physiological-stress; Physiological-response; Physiological-effects; Physical-stress; Physical-fitness; Workers; Work-environment; Environmental-exposure; Environmental-factors; Environmental-health; Environmental-stress; Monitors; Monitoring-systems; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors
Michael Masterman, Extreme Endeavors and Consulting LLC, 492 Hickory Corner, Philippi, WV 26416
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
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Extreme Endeavors and Consulting
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division