October 29, 2007 Perhaps the most critical tool in the face of disasters such as major fires is the ability to maintain communications – but the very nature of these events means that terrestrial systems are often an early casualty (through either overloading of the system or destruction of infrastructure), in turn exposing emergency personnel to an even greater level of danger. The I-GARMENT project is addressing this issue through the development of a full-bodied “smart suit” that combines protective materials with a suite of sensors that monitor position and vital signals and wirelessly transmit the data back to base.
Developed by yDreams for the the European Space Agency (ESA), the I-Garment fire suit is designed for firefighters and others involved in civil protection where lack of communication is a major risk when responding to fires, floods, car accidents, and other disasters. The I-Garment is constructed from the latest materials available to provide proper protection in hazardous situations, with special emphasis on user comfort and mobility. Tightly integrated with the suit is an array of sensors, telecommunication, localization, alert and processing hardware capable of collecting the status and position of the fire-fighter and transmitting it wirelessly and in real time to a data collecting computer installed in vehicles out in the field.
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Information collected from the technology in the suits will be sent via a wireless link to Civil Protection Officers at headquarters, processed and returned to the field officers equipped with PDAs and/or TabletPCs. The mobile interface will allow for the management of emergency teams in near real-time, provide medical assistance to elements in danger, and replace and move people according to the needs of the emergency.
The project will develop a service for the Portuguese Civil Protection and the design and prototyping stage of the I-Garment system is now complete.
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