It is called VR2Market and it is a project that allows to measure the vital signs of the firemen and to provide information to the chain of command, allowing a better management and coordination of the rescue teams and more safety in case of fire and other emergencies
Measuring the vital signs of firefighters, the level of hydrate on, stress and fatigue is what VR2Market proposes. The project is being developed by the Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering (INESC TEC) in partnership with the Institute of Telecommunications, the Institute of Electronic and Telematic Engineering of Aveiro, the Portuguese company Biodevices and the Institute of Robotics of Carnegie Mellon University ( USA).
The VR2Market consists of a sticker and an apparatus that is placed on the fireman’s helmet, capable of measuring, in case of fire or other emergency situation, vital signs of rescuers and air quality, especially the amount of carbon monoxide and of other toxic gases. This technology makes it possible to provide first aid services in emergency settings.
“Initially it was a T-Shirt, but we evolved into a sticker,” says João Paulo Cunha, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, who is involved in the project. “There is another unit that is put on the helmet and is communicating with the first one by measuring the ambient part. In the background are two “wearable” devices, the adhesive for the physiological part and the other for the environmental part “,
The adhesive is placed directly on the skin and is prepared to withstand high temperatures with the help of protective suits that firefighters are required to wear. “The adhesive does not melt. At the start, the fire department should not record temperatures above 38 degrees. The equipment they use tries to maintain, even when they are exposed to very high temperatures, the temperature of the body below that value. Therefore, this is not a problem at the adhesive level, “said João Paulo Cunha, who is also a researcher at INESC TEC.
The technology has already been tested with the Albergaria-a-Velha fire brigades near Aveiro and Cruz Verde in Vila Real. One of the project’s investigators, Ana Aguiar, told Expresso that “corporations have given very useful and positive feedback to the project, and this year, at the time of the fires, the same devices will be distributed again by Albergaria’s firefighters” .
AUTOMATIC ALARM TO REPAIR FIRE FIGHTERS
The project can work in real time and offline. Firefighters who use VR2Market and are in an emergency situation can be rescued by colleagues. “For example, if a firefighter falls and becomes inanimate, there is an automatic alarm about two minutes, both for the other firefighters and for the support car,” explains João Paulo Cunha.
The event data are all saved and can be analyzed later. Another characteristic of the project, says the researcher, is that “using GPS, we know exactly where the firefighters were, for how long and at what temperatures they were exposed. After producing a report, we were able to see what went well and what did not go so well. ”
Firefighters also have a small mobile phone that they do not need to handle, but which is capable of emitting emergency alarms and thus communicating with the support car. It has a computer or tablet, operated by a person who has already had the training necessary to handle the devices.
INESC TEC is working with a US startup, Incident Aid, which according to João Paulo Cunha, “has an easier solution, in which the mobile phone is inside a box that only has side buttons, so that , even with the use of gloves, the firemen can activate a request for help. The goal is not to occupy firefighters when they are in emergency situations. ”
The idea behind the promoters of this project is that it be expanded to all professions considered at risk. VR2Market’s budget is around half a million euros and during this year it will look for investors. João Paulo Cunha points out that the American market is the most attractive from a business point of view. The researcher also says that the project can also be realized in the European market, “if interested investors appear”.