A new tool for spotting buried victims

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23641069_mThe U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, last week announced the transition of the final prototype of the Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) technology to the commercial market. FINDER is a radar technology designed to detect heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage. Two commercial partners have been licensed to manufacture the device: R4 Inc. of Eatontown, New Jersey and SpecOps Group Inc. of Sarasota, Florida.

According to HomeLnad Security News WIre, S&T and NASA demonstrated its newest capabilities at the Virginia Task Force One (VA-TF1) Training Facility in Lorton, Virginia, finding “survivors” in a simulated disaster. This is thanks to the new locator feature, which can help pinpoint the location of the victim to within about five feet — depending on the type of rubble. This key change saves rescuers time, increasing chances for locating survivors.

S&T says that the technology proved successful during its first real-world operational use when it was deployed to Nepal following the 25 April earthquake to support international search and rescue efforts in the country. David Lewis, president of one of S&T’s commercial partners, R4 Inc., arrived in Nepal with two prototype FINDER devices on 29 April to assist in the rescue efforts. He joined a contingent of international rescuers from China, the Netherlands, Belgium, and members of the Nepali Army in Northern Nepal. Using FINDER, they were able to detect two heartbeats beneath each of two different collapsed structures, allowing the rescue workers to find and save the men. The four men had been trapped beneath the rubble for days in the hard-hit village of Chautara.