Army Develops New Technology For First Responders

A rapidly deployable communications system that provides wireless connectivity, situational awareness and 3-D location and tracking in the absence of a fixed communications infrastructure has been developed by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC).

Developed in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, The First Responder – Response Mobile Communications System was demonstrated by CERDEC and U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Monmouth, N.J. on Aug.29.

The demonstration comes on the heels of the release of 10 new recordings of emergency calls made on Sept. 11, providing more information about the location of emergency responders in the towers.

During the demonstration, Fort Monmouth emergency response personnel encountered real-world scenarios to show how the system works and its affects on the decision-making ability of the incident commander.

The RMCS monitors vital signs of responding personnel and provides the incident commander cognitive oversight of the responders' environmental conditions. The device also delivers voice communications and live high-quality video to the incident commander and headquarters coordinating the operation.

"Not since the introduction of the portable defibrillator, thermal imaging cameras and night vision devices has a technology of this scale been introduced," said Fort Monmouth Fire Chief John Erichsen. "First responders will be able to be directed by a central unit who at the same time is monitoring other information vital to the task at hand. This will truly save the lives of both first responders and the victims they are trying to save."

The recent RMCS demonstration is an enhancement to the demonstration held in August 2005. After a year of refinement, CERDEC has reduced the size, weight and power consumption of the overall system, and increased the range and data capacity to enable broad integration with standard first responder applications. These enhancements came as a result of feedback from Defense Department emergency response personnel and Department of Homeland Security public safety subject-matter experts.

This program is one example of CERDEC's continuing initiative to evaluate emerging commercial technologies for military use, and then sharing that technology for application in civil support communities of interest.

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