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Urban Search and Rescue Technology Needs: Identification of Needs

NCJ Number
James Wong; Cassandra Robinson
Date Published
June 2004
73 pages
This report presents findings and observations from a 2003 workshop that brought together practitioners in urban search and rescue (US&R) from across the United States and Canada to identify and define functional requirements for new and/or improved technologies that meet the needs of both US&R teams and law enforcement agencies.
Several disaster scenarios were discussed at the workshop to facilitate discussion and generate recommendations for functional requirements and corresponding technology needs. The requirements/needs given high priority by workshop participants were improved real-time data access pertaining to site conditions, personnel accountability, medical information, etc.; technology for the noninvasive location of survivors of structural collapses; the ability to communicate through and around obstacles; lighter and more efficient power sources; improved monitoring systems; improved personal protective equipment; the integration/consolidation of functions in multiple pieces of equipment; improved breaching, shoring, and debris-removal systems; reliable nonhuman and noncanine search and rescue systems; and the standardization of equipment. Overall, workshop participants identified the need for new/improved technologies to perform search and rescue functions more safely and effectively. Efforts to develop new technologies should focus on meeting specific search and rescue missions, rather than searching for an US&R problem to which a new technology may apply. Further, technologies and equipment must be tested and found to be reliable and effective prior to actual field use. Recommendations are offered for a relevant technology research program and its funding. 16 references and appended disaster scenarios and a list of workshop participants