Hearing a Heartbeat through the Concrete

In a natural or manmade disaster, the collapse of buildings can often lead to numerous casualties by trapping innocent bystanders underneath. One of the first jobs of emergency responders is to search the wreckage and look for any survivors that may be found.

Even with specialized equipment, it’s a very difficult job to locate survivors perfectly. Radar equipment and other tools that search for signs of life often have their signals blocked or scattered by the piles of concrete and steel between those who are trapped and their rescuers. One new technology is currently being developed, however, that promises to give emergency responders a greater ability to detect life underneath rubble.

FINDER, which stands for Finding Individuals for Disaster Emergency Response, is a radar-based technology that is being jointly developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and NASA. This radar system is capable of detecting a human heartbeat behind 20 feet of solid concrete, or 30 feet of crushed material. In an open field, this system can detect a heartbeat 100 feet away.

A human heartbeat provides an incredibly weak signal when compared to other electrical network that could obscure other emergency response technology signals. However, FINDER is capable of being able to not only detect the electric signal given off by a heartbeat, but also can discern between human and animal heartbeats. The microwave-based radar technology would give emergency personnel a much quicker response time for locating survivors, which will go a long way in reducing death tolls in these tragedies.

As our society continues to look for sustainable methods of building construction that are structurally sound, concrete will likely have a growing role in our world. No one can predict a tragedy, but being better protected against one can help us go about our lives a little easier. Bergen Mobile Concrete is always staying on top of innovations related to concrete to bring the best available technology to each of our jobs.

*Image courtesy of Golkin Oleg

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