“Smart pills” could save firefighters from injury or death

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 11:27am
Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor

 Source: the idea of “Smart Medication”  didn’t go over very well with the ECN crowd, there is a group to which it could be the difference between life and death.

Firefighters often work in extreme environmental conditions that can be pretty tough on the body’s vitals. These fire warriors are more prone to dehydration, cardiac arrest, heat stress and collapse if they’re not carefully tracking their own health. The problem is it’s hard to focus on your health when you’re focused on battling a raging inferno.

While conducting an exercise requiring them to remove 20 people from a burning building, firefighters in Australia were given Equivital EQ02 Life Monitor capsule, a device designed to monitor and track health conditions from a remote location. The devices monitor information internally and relay that information, regarding skin and core body temperature in addition to heart and respiration rates, to a device on the chest, which then sends it on to an external computer.

If the body temperature of the firefighter is rising too quickly, they can be pulled from the fire to cool down before the conditions worsen and prove potentially fatal to the person.  After a few days, the pill passes through the system.

This is particularly useful in situations like the massive wildfires, where the teams could be working for weeks on end in incredibly stressful situations and not monitoring their own health as closely as they should be. It allows firefighters to focus on the fire completely, knowing that if anything happens, they’ll be pulled out. Plus, with the temperatures in Australia so hot they had to add a new color to the map, officials are concerned about the possibilities of worsening conditions for firefighters.




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