County Fire Authority of Victoria carries out body monitoring study to record vital signs during firefighting operations

Published:  21 January, 2013

Equivital, the brand for mobile human monitoring solutions for hazardous worker applications, has been involved in a national research study in Australia, investigating how best to manage heat stress in Australian firefighters. The study was devised to demonstrate how early warning of the onset of heat related injury can be given by wearing the state-of –the-art Equivital EQ02 LifeMonitor during firefighting operations.

Heat stress is a serious risk factor for immediate injury or long-term cardiovascular risk. Heat stress can seriously put firefighters in perilous situations while responding to incidents such as bush or structural fires. Through elevated core body temperature, brain activity can be affected, and often this leads to an impaired decision-making process.

Firefighters who participated in the pilot research, carried out by the Country Fire Authority of Victoria, wore the Equivital EQ02 LifeMonitor, a multi-parameter body worn sensor that logs and transmits mobile human performance data, in real time. They also trialled the Core Temperature Capsule, a tiny ingestible capsule that measures core body temperature and transmits readings in real time to the Equivital EQ02 LifeMonitor.  The innovative technology enabled the firefighters’ vital signs to be monitored and meant they could be removed from the firefight if their core temperature was seen to be rising too rapidly.

Peter Langridge, Health and Wellbeing Officer, Country Fire Authority Victoria, said:“The new equipment allowed us to monitor the fire fighters vital health signs.  Management is the key to protecting our fire fighters. This new equipment feeds us live data about the health of individual fire fighters when they are in situ. This has resulted in a change to our work patterns and exposure times which has already and will continue to increase the short term and long term safety of our firefighters

He continued: “Firefighting is dangerous and unpredictable so we are always looking at ways to improve Firefighter health and safety. This research has shown that we can monitor their vital health signs and also know where they are located, both of which offer huge benefits to fire fighters.”

The initial pilot study involved 50 fire fighters from three different brigades. Following on from the initial study, a national research program is now being developed to further investigate procedures for heat related injury management. The research assesses the feasibility of using the Equivital LifeMonitor technology and real world data management solutions for use in live fire fighting. The key here is the ability to provide truly actionable information. 

  • Operation Florian

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