VIRGINIA (FOX 5 DC) – Developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL), POINTER is a revolutionary new tracking and tracing technology for first responders that enables first responders to more precisely locate their colleagues in an emergency.
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“This is a very interesting technology that adds another dimension to situational awareness for firefighters,” said Ed Chow, POINTER program manager.
Only FOX 5 was there for the first live operational test ever with firefighters from Fairfax, Loudoun and Stafford County.
“We are trying to improve the safety of first responder firefighters,” William Stout, program director for the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology.
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This new 3D technology uses magnetoquasistatic fields to locate firefighters up to 60 meters on the scene. There are existing tracking technologies that use GPS, but often fail indoors and in heavy smoke.
In a true emergency response, the fire truck will appear with Pointer technology, the transmitter stays outside, the visualization software can be activated immediately, and the fire fighters wear the receiver so the commander can follow where everyone is. world can be found at all times. This way, if a teammate is lost or there is a man-down-type event, the technology can be used to find a firefighter who may be lost or injured.
“We are excited to see how first responders perceive it, but also what the full potential of technology is – to what extent can technology enable them to save lives is what drove this work.” said Darmindra Arumugam, NASA JPL Senior Research Technologist.
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The goal? To ensure the safety and protection of firefighters so that they can return to their loved ones at night.
“We want everyone to come home every day,” said Brian Edmonston, Fairfax County Battalion Commander.
The size of the unit started out as the size of a backpack, it is now the size of a cell phone and engineers are working to make it even smaller.
The device should be available to fire departments within the next year. This has been in the works for a decade and continues to be tested in different structures, environments and weather conditions.