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All Hazards Focused

TechSpeak The Bonus S&T Podcast

This Tech Speak mini episode lets you know exactly what the First Responder Resource Group (FRRG) is with a refresher from Paul McDonagh, former Seattle Assistant Police Chief and current S&T First Responder Portfolio Manager. You’ll discover why it’s so important to S&T innovation priorities and how it influences the research and development process. You’ll also hear directly from current FRRG members Steve Vandewalle, a helicopter rescue medic with the San Diego Fire Department; Jay Hagen, Chief of the Bellevue, Washington, Fire Department; and Rodney Reed of the Harris County, Texas, Fire Marshal's Office as they share their personal perspectives and highlight the recently released Project Responder 6 Report. 

Run time: 07:15
Release Date: November 16, 2022

Show Notes

Guests: Paul McDonagh, S&T First Responder Portfolio Manager; Steve Vandewalle, helicopter rescue medic with the San Diego Fire Department; Jay Hagen, chief of the Bellevue, WA, Fire Department; and Rodney Reed of the Harris County, Texas, Fire Marshal's Office.

[00:00:00] McDonagh: If we just say Hey, I have this widget and it's gonna change your life and then we take it to 'em and nobody ever uses it That's a waste of time and money and that's not worthwhile.

[00:00:10] Dave: Welcome to Tech Speak, a mini episode of the Technologically Speaking Podcast. I'm Dave Sound editor for S&T. The voice you heard earlier was Paul McDonagh, former Seattle Assistant Police Chief and current S&T first responder portfolio manager, talking about how critical responders are to S&T's research and development. Here's a bit more from Paul.

[00:00:28] McDonagh: We continue to use our first responders throughout the whole solution development process we can use 'em as subject matter experts in terms of hey if this the solution would it work just that verbal communication but we also bring them in during the development process where they get to see the proposed physical solution if there is one and put their hands on it and kind of run it through the test and say hey yeah this would work or you need improvements here and here so throughout the whole process we try to do it because

[00:01:00] our end state is not only to identify their needs rapidly develop the needs but also get it into their hands through commercialization.

[00:01:07] Dave: Clearly, the partnership between S&T and our first responder resource group or FRRG is an important one. Let's now hear directly from some active FRRG members. Starting with Steve Vandewalle, a helicopter rescue medic with the San Diego Fire Department.

[00:01:21] Steve Vandewalle: We tried to describe the FRRG and what we do and that's what I bring up is the structure firefighting glove, uh, because it really shows how it all came together. I need a glove that's more easily donned and easily docked. everyone agreed right away. Yeah. That really is something that we all need, that it just isn't out there. And so that turned into an effort for a statement of objectives of all the things that improved glove would be more. dexterous, being able to work on a touch screen. Being able to operate my radio because we go into a fire and take the glove off to change the radio. Cause we do that in training because the buttons are small. We're all fat fingered firefighters, so then you go into a real fire, you do the same thing because that's what you’re doing in training. And then the hand burns, the stats came out. were pretty significant career ending, hand burns for people taking off their glove inside of a fire. That's when we found HybridSil, this now technology company. So, you tell me you can give me structure, fire, gloves, the thickness of a dime.

[00:02:10] Steve Vandewalle: I could be doing surgery inside a fire and my hands wouldn't burn then the next thing that was just great about it was. They made us an extremely thin glove. And so, we went through, all these different functions you would do with gloves on, and we realized that you do rely on some thickness of a glove. You bash your hands around a lot, and I never even thought about that before. I just thought thinner would be better. So, we had it really thin. Then we started realizing, no, he actually needed a little thicker. And it took six different iterations of the glove. If you look at what the state of the technology was before our effort, one of the things we do is the tech foraging. That's a key part, is the tech foraging goes out there and says, here is the state of structure glove technology. After we produced our glove, if you reran that same thing, all the other glove manufacturers have upped their game. They have to remain competitive to stay in business.

[00:02:55] Dave: Seems like the FRRG really helps strengthen collaboration across the board. S&T recently released the latest edition of Project Responder, a report heavily informed by FRRG members that documents the evolving response environment and most pressing capability needs. Here's Jay Hagen, Chief of the Bellevue, Washington Fire Department discussing project responder six.

[00:03:16] Jay Hagen: It's a partnership I'm thankful for it's important work. and it's really about convening people from across the country and having the skill to extract from them, you know, what they need and want and then how to focus the R&D community on those things. The mission always is evolving, and the money follows the mission. Right? So therefore, we have to be responsive into keeping our community safe. And well, I would say that the project responder series has always been sort of all hazards focused. Its central mission has kind of been on, you know, detection, capability, equipment, command, and control communication, stuff like that. And the last couple years I would say, has taken us in a slightly different direction. I mean, how do we disinfect people, places and vehicles in real time, that was a, an area where project responders’ stuff was extremely helpful. Post decon of surfaces monitoring whether or not your surfaces in your gear are clean decontaminated masks, reusing them.

[00:04:21] Jay Hagen: I mean, all the training tools, the simulations, the lessons learned all become extremely valuable and I'm really thankful to have. this work happening in that area. And, you know, I've been to six memorials for people that, that shouldn't have perished for people that worked for me. so, the safety aspect, the warning systems, the personal alert safety systems, the quality of the protective gear, the ability to communicate a problem. The ability to sense people's status down range, remotely, hugely valuable in terms of taking care of your people and enabling your people to be successful. 

[00:05:00] Dave: Wow. Jay really put things in the perspective the work responders do can literally be life or death, which is why S&T makes supporting them a priority. Here's Rodney Reed at the Harris County, Texas Fire Marshal's office weighing in a bit more about the FRRG and Project Responder.

[00:05:15] Rodney Reed: My personal opinion, any public safety responder that thinks their job is solely. the type of badge that they have on, it will in the next 10 years become a dinosaur and they'll have to go away because, again, the expectations on, on, on first responders, is far exceeding what Benjamin Franklin first thought about when he came up with volunteer firefighters in the United States and, what law enforcement was intended to do and provide. And so, you know, when you look at things like command control and coordination and other stuff inside of the project responder, uh, documentation is, you know, enhanced situational awareness. And so, again, we have to tear down these. I'm emergency response, your recovery, your preparedness, your mitigation, and getting everybody in the room at the same time. So, everybody can do their job at the same time, so we can recover from these disasters faster.

[00:06:15] Rodney Reed: one of the other big values that I have, for project responder. and many of the efforts of FRRG is the collaborative effort associated with this, looking at all aspects of the response, not saying, hey, we're law enforcement. We're gonna look at this from the cop perspective and fire from the fire and public health. Because the reality, of the situation that we face nowadays is our first responders have an unrealistic expectation by the public to mitigate disasters, based on the public's timeline. And so, as we, we always say the only way we're gonna be able to mitigate these disasters faster is all of us working together.

[00:06:56] Dave: I couldn't have said it better. All of us working together. This has been Tech Speak. Thank you for listening. You can learn a lot more about the first Responder resource group on S&T’s website and by following us at DHS Scitech DHS, S C I T E C H. Bye.

Last Updated: 04/01/2024
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