A new search-and-rescue technology developed in partnership by the Dept. of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration‘s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been used to rescue four men trapped under 10 feet of debris in Nepal.
Known as FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response), the device uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage. Two prototype FINDER devices were deployed following the April 25 earthquake to support search and rescue teams.
“The true test of any technology is how well it works in a real-life operational setting,” DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers said. “Of course, no one wants disasters to occur, but tools like this are designed to help when our worst nightmares do happen. I am proud that we were able to provide the tools to help rescue these four men.”
“NASA technology plays many roles: driving exploration, protecting the lives of our astronauts and improving — even saving — the lives of people on Earth,” NASA’s chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington Dr. David Miller said. “FINDER exemplifies how technology designed for space exploration has profound impacts to life on Earth.”
FINDER has previously demonstrated capabilities of detect people buried under up to 30 feet of rubble, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete and from a distant of 100 feet in open spaces. A new “locator” feature has since been added to not only provide search and rescue responders with confirmation of a heartbeat, but also the approximate location of trapped individuals within about five feet, depending on the type of rubble.