News Article

Tracking, Safety, And Navigation For Firefighters
Date: Mar 27, 2003
Source: Company Data ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Summit Safety Inc of Devens, MA

Pulse was developed in December 1999 after a tragic fire in Worcester, MA, focused national attention on the dangers firefighters and emergency personnel face when rapidly rising temperatures and dense smoke limit visibility to just a few inches. Pulse, whichstands for Personnel Ultrasonic Locating Safety Equipment, is a new, patented search and rescue system consisting of two components,a Beacon and a Tracker. The Pulse system's underlying ultrasound technology (similar to sonar) is based on the generation and detection of high-frequency sound waves. "We believe working to improve each firefighter's ability to find and assist another to beour personal call to action," says Cindy Haase, Co-founder. "Any technological advantage we can give to firefighters is a plus; however, this is the ultimate in firefighter rescue. This is a point to point electronic rope that establishes a definitive link between the rescuer and distressed firefighter," says Chief Malcolm MacGregor, Co-founder.

The Beacon is similar to a PASS device in that it has a motion sensor and an audible alarm. The fundamental difference is that theBeacon also has an ultrasound homing signal. When a firefighter is motionless for 30 seconds, the Beacon automatically emits its loudalarm and simultaneously transmits the ultrasonic homing signal.

The Tracker is essentially a high powered electronic ear that only responds to ultrasound. At football games, there are people whostand on the sidelines with large plastic dishes pointed in a specific direction. The purpose of these dishes is to isolate and collectonly the sounds that come from the direction that the dishes are pointed. The Tracker contains electronics that drive a bar graph totell the user how much ultrasound is being "seen" in the direction pointed, echoes can be followed from up to 150 feet away. Once theBeacon goes into its alarm mode, the ultrasound will shoot out and echo in all directions. The person using the Tracker needs only tolisten and get close enough to the victim using the loud alarm as a guide, if necessary.

Once close enough that ultrasound is picked up, the rescuer sweeps the Tracker in front of himself to find the largest homingultrasound signal. He then heads in that direction sweeping once every 5 feet or so traveled. Whether he has a direct, line-of-sightreading or an echo, following in the direction of the strongest signal will eventually lead him to the Beacon.

We've tested Pulse in many environments, including live burns, and have found regardless of smoke, water spray, debris, and normalfire scene noises, the system works well. At many Hands-On Training Sessions of different trade shows we attend, we've worked with some of the instructors using Pulse in their classes. "In a typical blind search to locate a downed firefighter, it often took 25minutes or more. Using the Pulse system in the same conditions and settings, the search time was 5 minutes or less," said Wayne Haase,Co-founder.

The Pulse system has sparked interests with fire departments all across the country and overseas. Summit Safety, Inc., has begunmanufacturing and expects to have units for sale worldwide by mid-2004.