Specialised sensors deployed to help save lives of first responders in Vancouver

IoT tracking safeguards firefighters from in-building dangers and exposure to hazardous chemicals.

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Metro Vancouver firefighters have teamed up with Calgary-based Internet of Things (IoT) company SensorUp to test a new system that helps safeguard first responders from in-building dangers and exposure to dangerous chemicals.

 

In an initial test – hailed as a first for North America – firefighters were given sensor devices to wear which track in real-time where they are on the scene, if they’ve fallen and whether they have been exposed to hazardous airborne substances, as well as monitoring their vital signs such as temperature and heart rate.

 

Sensors are connected to the SensorUp IoT platform, which aggregates real-time sensor data into a single dashboard to enable visualisation and assessment of emergency situations as they happen.

 

In addition to the dangers inherent in putting out fires, firefighters are at an increased risk of contracting cancers due to the smoke, pollutants and chemicals they are exposed to in the line of duty.

 

This initial test run is a pre-cursor to a pilot project set to begin within the next year.

 

SensorUp CEO Geoff Mair said he hoped that first responders everywhere would adopt the technology, which was developed with the Department of Homeland Security. He also announced a plan to roll it out in the US over the coming years.

 

“We’d like to see that same sort of initiative happen in Canada, so we can start to leverage this technology to save first responders’ lives and prevent deaths that don’t need to happen,” he said.

 

In addition to the dangers inherent in putting out fires, firefighters are at an increased risk of contracting cancers due to the smoke, pollutants and chemicals they are exposed to in the line of duty. Identifying the hazards first responders are faced with in real-time could help to mitigate any long-term health risks associated with toxic exposure.

 

“Health and safety and understanding what could be causing cancer [are] definitely front and centre in the fire service,” said Deputy Chief, Vancouver Fire and Rescue, Tyler Moore. “Something that we could do to turn that around so we have [fewer] deaths because of cancers would be a huge thing for us."

 

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