A modern technology gadget called FINDER that can detect a human heart beat 30 feet below rubble has been successfully tested to boost emergency response in several rescue scenarios. The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) is a new search and rescue technology that complements sniffing dogs, listening devices, and fiber-optic camera to detect and recover living victims trapped deep under the wreckage.
FINDER uses a microwave radar-based system and is set to become a standard tool for emergency rescuers around the world. It is a product of joint scientific and technology efforts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
It uses “advanced data processing systems” developed by JPL to amplify the weak signal of a heartbeat arrayed against a clutter of radar signals bounced back by crushed debris and rubble.
FINDER has the sophisticated capability to detect a person’s heartbeat even when positioned behind 20 feet of solid concrete wall or, in an open area, up to 100 feet away. The device immeasurably shortens the pace of recovery and rescue of victims by quickly locating anyone trapped under the debris, potentially curtailing the number of casualties, thereby saving more lives and limbs.
Rubble and debris clearing work on the wreckage can be pin-pointed near the buried victims, so they can be recovered and transferred to a safe area more efficiently. Paramedics can then start direct emergency life-saving procedures such as wound dressing, IVs, and related medical work potentially increasing the number of lives saved in disasters.
The FINDER adds another crucial dimension to saving lives with a breakthrough technology that was previously unavailable in often heartbreaking rescue efforts. Its application will expand beyond emergency rescue of buried victims and will see adaptation in floods, earthquakes, and armed conflict scenarios as well.
Testing and development of FINDER prototypes have been put on trial by The Department of Homeland Science and Technology and NASA’s JPL in 65 trial sites with success. They tested the penetrating radar capabilities in two Urban Search and Rescue teams at the training center of Fairfax Country Fire Department and in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The technology has salient advantages for first responders to assess the situation without the need for guesswork and painstaking clawing into the wreckage. The device sweeps for traces of heartbeat and can detect victims under the rubble that might be conscious and need help. Rescuers can then call for a swift and efficient recovery action in order to save lives.
Today’s prototype comprises of a compact sensing module, radar electronics, advanced digital processor, antenna, battery and UI. A commercial version with advanced features will be available early next year.
When buildings topple and earthquakes and landslides swallow people alive, it is a job beyond the reach of sniffing dogs. Worse, disasters of that magnitude could happen in the middle of nasty weather.
With the use of FINDER, rescuers scrambling to find traces of a heartbeat when disaster strikes now gets a boost in their emergency mission.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas