As a first responder, how to diffuse emergency situations is most likely at the forefront of your mind. You want to act as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible because people are counting on you and, quite often, lives are at stake. Technology can play a pivotal role in how you perform on the job, which is why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) relies on first responder input throughout the research and development phases and beyond.
Several technologies developed to meet the critical needs of first responders—technologies you told us you needed, and that you operationally tested—are now available for responder agencies to purchase and use.
FRG’s First Responder Technologies Division (R-Tech) recognizes that to transition new technologies to the marketplace, success is dependent on making sure the technology meets the needs of the first response community. R-Tech works with responders, even after the development of technology ends, to gather user feedback on use in real-world operations and environments.
Additionally, in keeping with R-Tech’s mission of fostering awareness and promoting technology adoption among the first responder community, the Technology Assessment and Transition (TAT) business unit stays in touch with vendors as well. By maintaining a relationship with these partners, the TAT can relay first responder feedback if adjustments are warranted to improve future technology releases.
“R-Tech recognizes that forging strong relationships with first responders and technology vendors goes beyond the development of technologies,” said TAT Program Manager Kimberli Jones-Holt. “Product testing by first responders helps us learn how the equipment is being used after transitioning to the commercial market and whether first responder needs are being met.”
Photo Caption: The Improved Structure Firefighting Glove transitioned to commercial partner Shelby Specialty Gloves in April 2015 after completing its final DHS evaluation. Firefighters noted heat resistance, don and doff ability, and overall comfort and flexibility as key improvements designed to meet their needs.
R-Tech Director Greg Price explained how TAT enables R-Tech to remain in touch with first responders who actively use the equipment available on the market. “Feedback, after a technology has fully transitioned to the market, is always welcomed,” he said.
“For example, the Improved Structure Firefighting Glove received input from First Responder Resource Group members at every phase of the project that helped shape the final design. Ongoing feedback provides us with the opportunity to assess which needs are being met, continue our relationship with first responders and build strong partnerships to discover new technologies for first responders in the future.”
To date, R-Tech has successfully transitioned several technologies, such as the First Responder Support Tools (FiRST) App, ERAD Prepaid Card Reader, and Semi-Autonomous Pipe Bomb Endcap Remover. Responders: are you ready to purchase these new technologies? Visit the FRG Technologies page for a complete list with vendor information.
Many of these technologies are also available on two government purchasing lists. The first is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Authorized Equipment List, which features approved equipment for emergency managers, first responders, and other homeland security professionals.
First responders can also look to the InterAgency Board’s Interactive Standardized Equipment List (SEL). The SEL serves as another resource for first responders at the local, state, and federal levels to find new technologies.
Feedback and questions from the response community are welcome. For more information about available R-Tech commercialized technologies, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.