NASA technology is being used to detect heartbeats deep beneath the rubble following the Nepal earthquake, which devastated the area more than a week ago. The biggest problem rescuers have had thus far is getting into certain areas, which have been almost completely inaccessible due to the violent nature of the earthquake. However, the damage that was done wasn’t just done by the initial blast of the earthquake.
The continued aftershocks made recovering and rescuing individuals from the rubble even more challenging because they couldn’t get to certain places that were otherwise considered necessary to get as many as the teams could.
That’s why urban disaster organizations here in the U.S. are teaming up with NASA to employ Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER), which is a piece of technology that can do a lot of the leg work that humans would otherwise take days, or weeks to execute.
Even better, the technology will help find those individuals who are buried beneath the rubble before they have been there for so long that it’s become impossible to save them. In any situation like this, it’s about rescuing as many individuals as possible, before the mission transitions into a recovery mission, which has significantly different goals.
John Price, who is the project manager with FINDER pointed out that, “Testing proved successful in locating a VA-TF1 member buried in 30 feet of mixed concrete, rebar, and gravel rubble from a distance of over 30 feet,” which was great news for those who developed the technology with the hopes of detecting heartbeats at a greater distance away.
Shivani Garg-Patel pointed out that, “With a situation like this that has such real-time info coming all the time, technology is huge.” He is the cofounder of Semahope, and went on to point out that, “To get information from the ground, to communicate with stakeholders, it mobilizes people to respond and react quickly. It’s a great way for us to mobilize and get help.” At the end of the day it’s about getting help to those who need it in areas where help is challenging to get.
The technology has already been credited with saving several lives and going forward, the number of lives that could potentially be saved due to technology like this, is astronomical. It significantly reduces the time, and human toll that search and rescue efforts often have associated with them. The interesting thing to note here is that this technology was put together officially in 2014. That’s when the teams involved in the project officially confirmed that the technology would be something functional in the real world. Now, that project has become a reality, and several lives have already been saved.