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Firefighter Safety Guidelines Incorporate New Training Parameters

July 31, 2006

Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute establishes national standards based on physiological data gathered by VivoMetrics' LifeShirt.


COLLEGE PARK, MD /PRNewswire/ -- Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) and The Center for Firefighter Safety Research and Development announced the results of a year-long Homeland Security and University of Maryland funded scientific study of over 200 firefighters to determine guidelines for firefighter training safety. The guidelines were established by studying the physiology of firefighters wearing the VivoMetrics LifeShirt and will be presented to fire departments and training academies nationwide this August.

Of the 90,000 firefighter injuries and 110 deaths that occur each year, over 10% of these fatalities occur during firefighter training due to the strenuous activities that require firefighters to work at or near maximal heart rates for extended periods of time. The LifeShirt System, provided by VivoMetrics Government Services, is a comfortable garment worn beneath a firefighter's protective gear to monitor vital signs and capture high-resolution physiologic data. Over the past year, the LifeShirt enabled MFRI to monitor respiration, ECG, blood oxygen saturation, temperature, and activity level during standard training exercises, including maze crawls, 1000° training fires and hose pulls—conditions that could not be replicated in a laboratory environment.

The data collected during the study will help to predict the onset of overexertion and heat stress and enable the optimization of recovery. A range of environmental conditions such as air temperature, fire temperature, and humidity were factored into the study, as well as physical characteristics of each firefighter, such as age, gender, height, weight, and fitness. The guidelines will provide trainers with a standardized, statistically significant data set to use as a baseline as they observe firefighters during physically demanding work in stressful environments. Trainers can then recommend rest as appropriate, monitor rehabilitation before re-entry, and use objective data to make more precise safety decisions.

"The overall goal of the study was to establish safer fire training and rescue parameters. Until now, there was no other way to measure firefighters' life-signs in real-time, during training," said Steve Edwards, director of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. "The LifeShirt enabled us to see how firefighters react in actual emergency situations, and allowed us to better understand what's needed to help them in the field while contributing to their safety."

"We are proud that the LifeShirt System played such an integral part in helping the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute determine guidelines to reduce injuries and deaths of firefighters," said Andrew Behar, president of VivoMetrics Government Services.

About Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute of The University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, nationally recognized for advanced technology research, has formed the Center for Firefighter Safety Research and Development. This Center is uniquely qualified to carry out the mission of improving firefighter safety through the research and development of improved communications systems, on-scene accountability, and firefighting equipment. There are extensive resources and expertise found within the Center for Firefighter Safety Research and Development. The close working relationships between key entities within the Center brings the potential for effective solutions in response to the need for vast improvement on this issue.

About the LifeShirt System
The LifeShirt System is the first noninvasive, ambulatory monitoring system that continuously collects, records, analyzes, and transmits a broad range of cardiopulmonary parameters. Users wear a lightweight, machine-washable garment or chest strap with embedded sensors that collect respiratory, cardiac, posture, activity, and temperature data. Additional data can be collected by integrated peripheral devices that measure blood pressure, blood-oxygen saturation, and other measures of health. The LifeShirt System has received FDA clearance and EMEA approval (CE Mark).

About VivoMetrics
VivoMetrics is a world leader in ambulatory physiologic monitoring devices for first responders, pharmaceutical clinical trials, and academic research. The LifeShirt system is a lightweight, comfortable garment worn during activities of daily living that continuously measures a wide range of physiologic parameters. The technology enables first responders to transmit vital real-time physiologic information to incident command centers; pharmaceutical companies to improve the speed and economics of clinical research; and academic researchers to discover new clinical signatures of disease. For more information, visit the company's Web site.


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