PHASER is designed to provide incident commanders with health information about individual firefighters, like body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse rate and relay that back to a laptop or some other monitoring device.
Bruce Varner, a retired fire chief fromSanta Rosa,Calif., and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) chairman of the electronic safety equipment technical committee, said the number one killer of firefighters is cardiac arrest. He said PHASER is charged with helping to predict when a firefighter is about to suffer a cardiac emergency. That, however is a very tall order considering doctors closely monitoring individuals with high tech equipment in hospitals are challenged by the same problem.
“I am not sure how close we will come to the goal, but it’s worth trying,” Varner said, noting that technology in the fire service is a way to keep firefighters safe.
Dr. Christopher Cooper, professor of medicine and physiology atUniversityofCalifornia Los Angeles(UCLA)SchoolofMedicine, said Globe Fire Suits and Zephyr Technology are working on wearable gear that will provide medical information to incident commanders to help determine the well being of firefighters in action.
Using an array of sensors and an Android-based communications platform, firefighters’ vitals can be monitored and transmitted to someone keeping track of firefighters at the scene or during training. The goal is to signal trouble when a firefighter exceeds personalized limits determined by baseline monitoring so a commander can intervene when a firefighter is at risk.
The information can be transmitted to an “EMSdashboard” that would flag a firefighter in trouble with a red light, while those in good health would remain green.