First Responder Technologies

First Responder Technologies

Firefighters attempt to put out a Wildland Fire The First Responder Technologies Division (R-Tech) works closely with the nation’s emergency response community to identify and prioritize mission capability gaps and facilitate rapid development of critical solutions to address responders’ everyday technology needs. R-Tech gathers input from local, tribal, territorial, state and federal first responders and engages them in all stages of research and development—from building prototypes to operational testing to transitioning the tools that enhance safety and performance in the field.

Learn more about R-Tech

R-Tech uses a variety of approaches to gather information on capability gaps. For example, the First Responder Resource Group, comprised of 120 active and retired first responders from across the nation, is an all-volunteer working group that helps guide S&T’s research and development efforts by advising on the top-priority needs of first responders in the field. They also work directly with first responders who have specific requests, like wildland firefighters in California whose heavy personal protective gear was resulting in large numbers of heat stress injuries. In partnership with the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the U.S. Forest Service, and California firefighters, FRG designed a new garment ensemble for wildland firefighters that improved radiant thermal protection; reduced heat stress; and improved the form, fit and function of the garments.

For more information contact us at first.responder@hq.dhs.gov.

Our Projects

First Responder Resource Group (FRRG)

Comprised of 120 active and retired first responders from across the nation, the FRRG is an all-volunteer working group that helps guide S&T’s research and development efforts by advising on the top-priority needs of responders in the field. Watch the First Responder Resource Group in 100 Seconds and The First Responder Resource Group (FRRG) through the Eyes of its Members videos.

Project Responder 4 (PR4)

PR4 is the fourth in a series of plans intended to help FRG pinpoint challenges that today’s first responders face and prioritize solutions for them. More than 150 federal, state and local responders from 34 states and the District of Columbia contributed feedback on capability gaps to the PR4 plan, which was released summer 2014.

Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) Virtual Training

While live field exercises provide hands-on training to keep skills sharp, they are often costly and time consuming—particularly when they involve coordination among various response agencies. FRG leveraged U.S. Army technology to develop a virtual environment that provides realistic, customized training scenarios and allows online cross-jurisdiction and cross-agency training.

Related Resources: EDGE page, EDGE Fact Sheet, EDGE Virtual Training Revisited video, and EDGE Photo Gallery.

Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Response (POINTER)

POINTER is a precision positioning sensor system that uses low-frequency magnetic fields to locate first responders’ positions and orientation, even in the most diverse and complex environments. In situations with heavy smoke, debris or line-of-sight obstructions, maintaining awareness of responder locations not only enhances real-time response efforts, but also saves precious seconds when a responder is injured or lost. Watch the POINTER video.

Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER)

In the aftermath of a disaster, first responders often refer to the window of time where a victim's rescue greatly increases their chance of survival as the golden hour. The ability to rapidly assess whether live victims are trapped in rubble can save precious time and search and rescue resources. FINDER uses low-power microwave radar to detect breathing and the heartbeats of buried victims, quickly directing rescuers and increasing victims’ survivability. Watch the FINDER the Bigger Story video.

Mobile Biometrics

Mobile biometrics devices save lives and assist agents and first responders in solving crimes by providing accurate, fast identification of individuals.

Virtual Shooter

For those responsible for testing firearms, constant recoil from repetitive firing can lead to stress injuries and debilitating pain. To address this concern and reduce physical strain on the testers, FRG developed a mechanical gun holder device—the Virtual Shooter—to mimic the movements and reactions of a human firing a gun. Watch the Virtual Shooter in 100 Seconds video.

X-Ray Scanning Rover (XSR)

As improvised explosive devices are becoming more sophisticated, so does the need for a stand-off detection device. FRG is developing and testing equally sophisticated diagnostic tools, such as the XSR, so responders can quickly determine whether suspicious objects contain explosives without putting lives at risk.

Improved Structure Firefighting Glove

When responding to structural fires, firefighters wear protective gloves—known as structure gloves—to shield their hands from burns and other injuries. Because these gloves can be bulky and limit dexterity, firefighters often need to remove them to complete routine tasks such as handling tools or using communications equipment. FRG worked with industry partners to construct a next-generation glove that will provide the full range of protection firefighters need along with greater dexterity. Watch the Improved Structure Firefighting Gloves video.

Wildland Fire Fighting Advanced Personal Protection System

Firefighters must often hike to remote and sometimes distant locations to respond to wildland fires. Wildland firefighters’ heavy personal protective gear increased the number of heat stress injuries. In partnership with the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center; the U.S. Forest Service; and California firefighters, FRG designed a new garment ensemble for wildland firefighters that improves radiant thermal protection; reduces heat stress; and improves the form, fit and function of the garments.

Ambulance Patient Compartment Design Standards

FRG, along with partners at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and representatives from the emergency medical services and manufacturing communities are developing ambulance compartment design and safety standards in several areas, including:

  • Seat and restraint standards
  • Patient cot and restraint standards
  • Equipment mounting requirements
  • Supply/drug cabinet retention requirements
  • Patient compartment integrity.

Wireless Vital Signs Monitoring System

FRG is developing a device that can monitor vital signs without connecting wired sensors from the patient to other equipment. The device will monitor blood pressure, 12-lead electrocardiograms, temperature and respiration. The system will work with existing devices, including the use of traditional sensor patches attached to a patient that transmit data feeds wirelessly back to a central monitor. Watch the Wireless Vital Signs in 100 Seconds video.

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