NASA’s FINDER Technology Saving Lives in Nepal

The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) prototype technology can locate individuals buried under rubble in disaster scenarios. This photo is from a previous test. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DHS)
The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) prototype technology can locate individuals buried under rubble in disaster scenarios. This photo is from a previous test. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DHS)

A device the size of a small suitcase was used to save four people after the earthquake that struck Nepal.

The device was used to detect the heartbeats of the four people who were trapped under the rubble.

The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) prototype technology can locate individuals buried under rubble in disaster scenarios. David Lewis, president of R4, Inc., took two FINDER prototypes to Nepal to assist in rescue efforts after the April 25, 2015, earthquake. This photo was taken on April 29 in Kathmandu. Credits: David Lewis, R4 Inc.

The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) prototype technology can locate individuals buried under rubble in disaster scenarios. David Lewis, president of R4, Inc., took two FINDER prototypes to Nepal to assist in rescue efforts after the April 25, 2015, earthquake. This photo was taken on April 29 in Kathmandu.
Credits: David Lewis, R4 Inc.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate developed the device, which is called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response, or FINDER.

FINDER joined a contingent of international rescuers from China, the Netherlands, Belgium and members of the Nepali Army in northern Nepal. This photo was taken on April 29 in Kathmandu. Credits: David Lewis, R4 Inc.

FINDER joined a contingent of international rescuers from China, the Netherlands, Belgium and members of the Nepali Army in northern Nepal. This photo was taken on April 29 in Kathmandu. (Image: David Lewis, R4 Inc.)

FINDER can detect a human heartbeat while;

  • Buried under 30 feet (9 meters) of crushed material
  • Hidden behind 20 feet (6 Meters) of solid concrete
  • Or from a distance of 100 feet (30 meters) in open space

NASA FINDER technology helps in Nepal:

FINDER is based on remote-sensing radar technology developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to monitor the location of spacecraft JPL manages for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, wrote Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“FINDER is bringing NASA technology that explores other planets to the effort to save lives on ours,” said Mason Peck, chief technologist for NASA and principal advisor on technology policy and programs. “This is a prime example of intergovernmental collaboration and expertise that has a direct benefit to the American taxpayer.”

Jim Lux, JPL Task Manager for FINDER, discusses the prototype technology called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) during a demonstration of the device at the Virginia Task Force 1 Training Facility, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 in Lorton, Va. FINDER can locate individuals buried as deep as 30 feet (about 9 meters) in crushed materials, hidden behind 20 feet (about 6 meters) of solid concrete, and from a distance of 100 feet (about 30 meters) in open spaces. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Jim Lux, JPL Task Manager for FINDER, discusses the prototype technology called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) during a demonstration of the device at the Virginia Task Force 1 Training Facility, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 in Lorton, Va. FINDER can locate individuals buried as deep as 30 feet (about 9 meters) in crushed materials, hidden behind 20 feet (about 6 meters) of solid concrete, and from a distance of 100 feet (about 30 meters) in open spaces. (Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

It works by sending microwave radar signals into the rubble and then it analyzers the patterns of signals that bounce back.

NASA device detects heartbeats of trapped Nepal quake survivors:

“The ultimate goal of FINDER is to help emergency responders efficiently rescue victims of disasters,” said John Price, program manager for the First Responders Group in Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate in Washington.

“The technology has the potential to quickly identify the presence of living victims, allowing rescue workers to more precisely deploy their limited resources.”

JPL uses advanced data processing systems to pick out faint signals. The microwave radar technology is sensitive enough to distinguish the unique signature of a human’s breathing pattern and heartbeat from that of other living creatures, such as rats.

Virginia Task Force 1 team members demonstrate the prototype technology called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) at the team's training facility, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 in Lorton, Va. FINDER can locate individuals buried as deep as 30 feet (about 9 meters) in crushed materials, hidden behind 20 feet (about 6 meters) of solid concrete, and from a distance of 100 feet (about 30 meters) in open spaces. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Virginia Task Force 1 team members demonstrate the prototype technology called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) at the team’s training facility, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 in Lorton, Va.
(Image NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The advantage of this technology is to allow first responders to quickly ascertain if a living human is present in the debris. The technology is sensitive enough that victims, whether conscious or not, can easily be detected, which helps responders decide the most efficient course of action, NASA wrote on its website.

Let’s hope this is something that they will share with other countries. It is also good to see tax payers money going to good use.

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