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Intelligent PPE system for personnel in high risk and complex environments

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New protection equipment helps rescue efforts

An integrated personal protection system, from garments to gas masks, will help staff in the rescue field save lives and reduce damage.

Climate Change and Environment

Efficient rescue in cases of disaster such as fire, mine collapse, industrial calamity or terror attack is the hallmark of an advanced society. Protecting rescuers is of utmost importance for the European Commission, which wants to ensure that key individuals in any disaster are equipped with the right personal protective equipment (PPE). The EU-funded project 'Intelligent PPE system for personnel in high risk and complex environments' (I-PROTECT) worked on achieving this aim. Current PPE such as protective clothing, breathing apparatuses, or gas masks often work independently and not in tandem. The project team developed a comprehensive PPE system, integrating its components using cutting-edge materials and technology. Such a system would include fibre-optic sensors, gas detectors, advanced wireless communication, and nanotechnology-based fabrics. More specifically, the system integrates protective clothing with different sensors for real-time monitoring of environmental parameters during rescue such as temperature, oxygen levels and toxic gases. It also transmits all external data and information about the rescuer's health to a portable rescue coordination centre, representing another important component of the concept. The new garments and associated devices, which were designed to be comfortable and ergonomic, were successfully tested in laboratory environments. Field trials were then conducted by fire fighters, chemical rescuers and mine rescuers in different European countries, leading to fine tuning and improvements. After the system's viability and effectiveness were demonstrated and perfected, the technology was disseminated to stakeholders via conferences, workshops and events, targeting the different emergency teams. Overall, this innovative project is set to enhance protection for professional rescuers, contributing to the safety of European citizens while strengthening occupational safety and health. Its results will also help redefine European regulations and standards on PPE and further the European market in advanced PPE systems.

Keywords

Personal protection, rescue, personal protective equipment fibre-optic sensor, gas detector, real-time monitoring

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