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Jonas Dino | Michael Mewhinney                                                                     May 4, 2004

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.                                       

Phone: 650/604-5612; 650-604-3937; 650-604-9000

E-mail: Jonas.Dino@nasa.gov | Michael.Mewhinney@nasa.gov


RELEASE: 04-38 AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: News media representatives are invited to observe a demonstration of new search-and-rescue technologies from 10 a.m. to noon PDT on Thursday, May 6, at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. Reporters wishing to observe the workshop activities must call Mike Mewhinney at 650/604-3937 by close of business on Wednesday, May 5, to confirm their attendance.   News media should report to the emergency rescue training facility, Bldg. N-267, located on the perimeter road at the east end of the research center.  News media representatives must have a valid government-issued picture ID in order to enter NASA Ames.

NASA TESTS NEW EMERGENCY RESCUE TECHNOLOGIES 

NASA is bringing together emergency responders and technology developers from across the country to test and refine new technologies and to highlight the importance of technology development to the emergency responder.

The technology testing is part of the 15th annual collapsed structure rescue workshop sponsored by NASA Ames Research Center's Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART), Moffett Field, Calif., from May 3-7, 2004. The workshop is an ongoing, nationwide collaborative effort to share knowledge and expertise, and to develop and improve techniques and tools used in urban search and rescue. Better understanding of technology needs and priorities will make the emergency response task safer and more effective, according to workshop organizers.

"We are very proud of our Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team's service to the public in national and natural disasters," said NASA Ames Director G. Scott Hubbard. "We are honored to host this important workshop to test new technologies that may help first responders in the event of future terrorist attacks or disasters."

"This is a rare opportunity for technologists to learn how to refine or modify existing technologies to meet the specific needs of emergency responders," said Robert J. Dolci, director of emergency services at NASA Ames. "This workshop also will have a heavy emphasis on technology development for the emergency responder." The technology developers will work hand-in-hand with highly skilled urban search-and-rescue specialists to test the technologies in NASA Ames' Collapsed Structure Rescue Training Facility.

In addition to 30 urban search-and-rescue participants, the workshop will include more than 30 technologists and technology developers. Technologies to be showcased include robots, unmanned aerial vehicles, biosensors, environmental sensors, victim-locating systems, hazardous material sensors, responder tracking devices, responder health-monitoring systems, and data and communication management systems.

The workshop provides an opportunity for technologists to experience first-hand what rescue specialists face when they work in a collapsed structure. Technologists will experience the oppressive feeling of crawling through a tiny tunnel carved through twisted concrete and steel or feel what it's like for responders not to know if the next space they enter will have enough oxygen left to keep them alive. "This workshop will give non-responders a rare look into the world of collapsed-structure rescue," Dolci said. "It also will give technologists a real appreciation for the needs of the first responder."

During the last two days of the workshop, participants will take part in an exercise in DART's unique collapsed-structure training facility. The site includes a large concrete rubble pile with built-in voids and rooms, a simulated concrete collapsed structure, a 30-foot-long twin-engine aircraft, a railroad tanker car, and large concrete loads for lifting and moving.

Participating technologists include representatives from NASA Ames; NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif., the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, Colo.; Tri-Sentinel Inc., Milpitas, Calif.; PureSense, Moffett Field, Calif.; Carnegie Mellon University at NASA Research Park; Stanford University; University of South Florida and its Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, Tampa; and the UAV Applications Center at NASA Research Park.

Participating emergency responders include representatives from California Task Forces 3, 7 and 8; NASA Ames DART; NASA JPL Emergency Response Team; North Carolina Task Force 1; Delaware Task Force 1; Florida Task Force 3; Indiana Task Force 1; FEMA Region 9; and the Army Explosives Ordnance Disposal.

The workshop is sponsored by NASA Ames with support from NASA JPL and the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue at the University of South Florida. 

NASA Ames' Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team has responded to disasters such as the Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Sept. 11, 2001, collapse of the twin towers at New York City's World Trade Center.

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