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  1. Science and Technology
  2. Research & Development
  3. First Responder Capability
  4. First Responder Technologies
  5. System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER)

System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) Program

Battery-Powered Rescue Tools for Vehicle Extrication

SAVER video presents results of tool assessments.

Walk-Through Screening for Mass Casualty Threats

SAVER TechNote provides an overview. 

Crowd Analysis Technologies

SAVER Market Survey Report delivers a commercial marketplace snapshot of tech systems. 

Augmented and Virtual Reality Training Systems

SAVER Market Survey Report offers a commercial marketplace snapshot. 

Body Worn Cameras with Automatic Activation

SAVER Market Survey Report provides a commercial marketplace snapshot. 

Blue UAS for First Responders

SAVER Focus Group Report recommends Blue UAS evaluation criteria to use in a future assessment.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) manages the SAVER Program to assist emergency responders in making procurement decisions. Since its inception in 2004, the SAVER Program has produced more than 1,100 publications. These publications—which include focus group, market survey and assessment reports, as well as technotes, application notes, handbooks, guides and other documents—are described in detail on the SAVER Document Descriptions page. They provide valuable information to assist responders and purchasers with procurement decisions.

SAVER publications often contain a list and description of standards relevant to specific types of equipment. The SAVER Guidance for Use of Standards When Selecting and Purchasing Responder Equipment explains how to make practical use of this information for procurement. It covers what standards are, why they are important, how to verify that standards are met, and how to include requirements for the use of standards in procurement efforts.

Publicly releasable SAVER documents are available here in the SAVER Document Library. SAVER documents with limited distribution are available to members of the SAVER Community by contacting NUSTL@hq.dhs.gov.

Emergency responder agencies are interested in crowd analysis technology to determine how to address emergencies and effectively manage large crowds during planned events and unplanned incidents to prevent delayed, inadequate, or misplaced responses across the first responder community. Without these technologies, responders use experience, communication, and knowledge of public spaces, city blocks, barricades, and other items to gain situational awareness of crowds and estimate crowd sizes and other crowd characteristics.

Emergency responders are deployed to various hazardous and contaminated areas with handheld sensors and traditional protection. The use of unmanned systems integrated with a sensor payload can provide a remote chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosives (CBRNE) detection capability in hard- to-reach or potentially hazardous environments. Unmanned aerial vehicles paired with appropriate sensors may be used to determine or characterize a hazard in prevention or response scenarios.

Non-detonable training aids (TAs) are specialized tools used in training explosives detection canines (EDCs) to recognize various explosives and explosives-related threats and alert their handlers to the presence of those materials. Non-detonable TAs are crucial for security and law enforcement agencies as well as military organizations where EDCs play a vital role in security and anti-terrorism efforts. Non-detonable TAs contribute to the success and proficiency of working canines across various fields while removing risks associated with handling live explosives during training.

A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is an essential piece of personal protective equipment for the first responder community and for industry. SCBAs supply breathing air from a source carried by users, allowing them to enter areas that pose an immediate danger to life and health. Emergency responders use SCBAs to enter oxygen-deficient and other extremely hazardous environments. SCBAs can weigh more than 30 pounds and require special training to use safely.

Over the past decade, first responders have begun integrating small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as a resource for a variety of operational needs. UAS, often referred to as “drones,” are used by first responders in support of public safety activities such as search and rescue, firefighting, and post incident reconstruction. UAS provide first responders with an aerial view of their environment and can be outfitted with various sensors tailored to different applications. The publication of the “Blue UAS Cleared List” or “Blue List” by the Department of Defense (DoD) may aid responder agencies with their acquisition processes. UAS on the Blue List or “Blue UAS” have been vetted to be compliant with DoD policy.

Highly sensitive radiation detection systems mounted in mobile platforms such as automobiles, boats, or small aircraft can detect, assess and characterize radiation for multiple first responder missions. Such mobile detection systems can cover a large area quickly to perform routine mapping of a city’s normal background radiation levels, monitor entry points, search for illicit radioactive materials, or determine where radioactivity has spread after an accident. 

Rechargeable or single-use disposable batteries are used to power electronic-based firefighting equipment. A variety of battery types including, but not limited to Alkaline, Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-CAD), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), and Lithium (Li-Ion) each have unique characteristics and applications for recommended equipment.

Find related technologies in the FEMA Authorized Equipment List and InterAgency Board Interactive Standardized Equipment List.


Augmented Reality (AR) training systems use digital media to enhance or simulate training scenarios. AR systems superimpose digital content over a user’s real-world view.


Virtual reality (VR) training systems use digital media to enhance or simulate training scenarios. VR systems immerse the user in an alternate digital environment.

AI- facilitated emergency medical services (EMS) call center software leverages legacy technologies along with the addition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems to support first responders in the events unfolding during a medical emergency.

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) can be applied to address various operational challenges in the first responder community. AI refers to automated, machine-based technologies with at least some capacity for self-governance that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing real or virtual environments. ML is a subset of AI. ML systems receive inputs in the form of training data, and then generate rules that produce outputs. ML systems “learn” from examples, rather than human-created rules. 

Air-purifying (APRs) and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) are small and portable and offer protection to users like wildland firefighters from hazardous air particles, smoke and gases.

Battery-powered rescue tools for vehicle extrication, including spreading, cutting and spreading/cutting combination tools, are used by emergency responders to create greater access to persons trapped within vehicles by spreading or removing areas of damaged vehicle from around them.

Law enforcement agencies maintain extensive inventories of crime scene evidence, such as blood stains, hair, fibers, firearms, fingerprints, documents and specimens from sexual assault kits. The proper collection, labeling and tracking of evidence gives credence that the evidence presented in court is the same evidence that was collected at the crime scene. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology can help facilitate, standardize and automate inventory and asset tracking tasks for law enforcement’s management of evidence.

First responders use infrared thermal detection technologies for a variety of applications, including search and rescue, structural navigation, hostage negotiation, scenarios with barricaded individuals, and enhanced visibility in poor operational conditions. Such thermal imaging systems are also reasonably accurate for detecting fever among human subjects. Therefore, first responders may be able to employ these systems as part of a larger solution for conducting point-of-entry health screenings to protect the safety and health of a workforce and the general public.

Laser protective eyewear is used to protect wearers against eye damage from commercial or industrial lasers. The lenses are designed to block specific wavelengths of laser light. They can be used as safety glasses in workplaces where lasers are operated and by pilots and first responders as protection from laser pointer attacks.

Incident management software (IMS) consists of a suite of tools that collect and manage critical incident data in a collaborative environment to aid decision-making. IMS captures diverse, multilayered information to provide first responders and emergency managers with knowledge critical to managing no-notice incidents and planned events at any scale. Emergency management, fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and other first response agencies use IMS for incident planning, multiagency coordination, resource allocation, and asset tracking.

Particulate respirators worn over the nose and mouth protect the wearer from inhaling hazardous particulate matter such as dusts and airborne biohazards. The level of protection depends upon filtration effectiveness and the tightness of the seal around the edges of the mask when it is worn. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) tests and certifies particulate air purifying respirator products that exceed the minimum 95% level of filtration. Respirators required in the workplace are regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

First responders use body cameras to record interactions with other responders and the public while on duty. These cameras may be used by all responder disciplines to ensure transparency, deter aggressive behavior, preserve evidence, monitor personnel, document interactions, support the accuracy of written reports, provide a training tool, and aid in improving standard operating procedures.

Medical masks and barrier face coverings are worn over the nose and mouth to reduce the transmission of biohazards.

Messaging apps enable first responders to send information such as messages, alerts, images, and locations between field operators using mobile devices and officers stationed at static locations who are using desktop computers.

Fixed-position direct radiation environmental monitoring systems are capable of continuous, unattended outdoor operation and of providing real-time measurements of the external gamma radiation exposure rate ranging from natural background to emergency levels.

Maritime radiation detection equipment can be deployed on vessels to detect illicit radioactive material.

Wireless surveillance camera systems capture and transmit live video over the air for real-time viewing and/or recording. Law enforcement agencies often use these systems to provide security and surveillance video.

Language translation equipment is used to communicate emergency medical information between non-English speaking, hearing-impaired, or visually-impaired patients (or patient representatives) and emergency responders, including medical services, hospital workers and public health providers.

Last Updated: 07/03/2024
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