Firefighter safety has been Globe Manufacturing Company's primary mission ever since the company invented the first firefighter suit 125 years ago. The company has always focused on state-of-the-science product development, joining the experience of Globe's in-house design team with university and government researchers and developers of innovative materials and technology.
WASP is an integrated body-worn electronics system that includes physiological monitoring and location/tracking. Globe believes it will become a “must have” tool that will help reduce firefighter deaths and disabilities due to stress and overexertion and make indoor location/tracking of personnel a reality for emergency responders. WASP provides reliable real-time data and, as an integrated system, it will allow for the adoption of other sensor technologies.
“Firefighters face one of the highest on-duty incidences of cardiac events of any profession,” explains Mark Mordecai, Director of Business Development for Globe. “In fact, heart attacks are the number one killer of firefighters. We knew in developing WASP, it would be all about wearability. WASP needs to be something that firefighters can wear every day on every call.”
According to Dr. Denise Smith, Professor of Exercise Science at Skidmore College and a member of the WASP team, “When a firefighter is down, nothing is more important than getting to him/her quickly. At the same time, the physiological monitoring is so critical because that's how we know how the firefighter is doing.
”Testing is being done on real firefighters. “The results of both the location and physiological systems can be seen together on one screen by the incident commander, safety officer, or medical team,” continues Mordecai. “As we have moved through the phased development of WASP, we've have had a number of trials and the results to date have exceeded our expectations.”
WASP is designed to address high priorities from both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Interagency Board (IAB) for physiological monitoring and a 3-D location/tracking of emergency personnel. To develop WASP, Globe partnered with Zephyr Technologies for physiological monitoring and data transmission technology, TRX Systems for infrastructure-free location tracking system in GPS-denied environments; Skidmore College Health and Exercise Sciences Department for human trials and system data validation; and Propel for technical textile development. The US Army NSRDE National Protection Center is providing funding and program management.