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FINDER, Perfect Example of an S&T Success, Saves Lives

Release Date: May 6, 2015

S&T’s mission is to deliver effective and innovative insight, methods and solutions for the critical needs of the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE). What that means is when we learn of a need – from one of the DHS components, the responder community, or any other member of the HSE; we strive to help find a solution. We use a variety of methods to attain that solution – but the bottom line that we want to help our stakeholders overcome that challenge.

This week’s success with FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) is a perfect example of why we do what we do at S&T. Here, science and technology research and development not only provided an operational solution to our stakeholders, but it saved lives. 

On April 29th, one of our commercial partners, R4 Inc. out of Eatontown, N.J., arrived in Nepal with two prototype FINDER devices to assist with the earthquake rescue efforts.  The R4 representative 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 four men.

FINDER uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage. In development since April 2012, it represents the combined efforts of S&T, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Virginia Task Force One.  To locate victims, FINDER uses low-power microwave radar to detect small movements from the breathing and heartbeat of a buried victim and then directs rescuers to their location, all while being able to distinguish between human, animal, and mechanical movement.

Previously, FINDER demonstrated it could detect heartbeats of victims buried under up to 30 feet of rubble, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete, and from a distant of 100 feet in open spaces. We recently added a locator feature to the technology that allows search and rescue teams to determine the approximate location of trapped individuals within about five feet, depending on the type of rubble.

The true test of any technology is how well it works in real-life operational conditions. This past week, FINDER successfully passed that test. No one wants disasters to occur, but tools like this are designed to help when our worst nightmares do happen. I am proud that we were able to provide the tools to help rescue these four men. And I know FINDER will be a valuable asset in years to come.

Last Updated: 02/12/2021
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