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DHS, DOE Labs Evaluate In-Suit Comms Gear for Emergency Responders

Jeff Brody

The Department of Homeland Security's National Urban Science and Technology Laboratory has collaborated with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to evaluate in-suit equipment designed to help first responders communicate when they respond to hazardous material incidents.

Fire service responders wore Level A personal protective equipment and communication tools from CavCom, CeoTronics, Drager and TEA Headsets during four different scenarios as part of the field assessment held at a joint training facility in Seattle, DHS said Thursday.

Participants communicated within noise-filled environments and performed building entry drills to test the ISC units. NUSTL and PNNL then collected feedback from the responders to assess the devices against a set of criteria such as deployability, capability, maintainability and usability.

“Through these hands-on assessments, we have an opportunity to look at emerging technologies, get our hands on it, test it in a realistic environment, validate our assumptions or expectations of how it will perform, and then share our findings and ideas with other responders from around the country,” said Grady Poole, a firefighter at the Seattle Fire Department.

NUSTL operates under the DHS' science and technology directorate and oversees the System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders program, which is meant to help first responders obtain data they can use before procuring communications gear.

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