New vest to help fire fighters, rescue workers keep cool

September 22nd, 2009 - 1:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 22 (IANS) Inventors have developed a vest that can help fire fighters and emergency workers maintain their cool.
The CoolMe Vest significantly reduces heat stress and recovery period for workers in extreme heat conditions. It is a disposable, single-use item made of recyclable material.

The vest was developed by three James Cook University (JCU) staff members with the support of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.

“A fire fighter wearing a protective suit in a hot and humid environment can experience temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius and lose up to two litres of fluid in just 30 minutes,” said co-developer of the vest Glen Deakin, a lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science in JCU.

“It can take up to two hours for that worker to recover and be ready for redeployment. We’ve been able to reduce that recovery period to 30 minutes, as well as significantly reducing fluid loss, core temperature and thermal discomfort.”

Deakin developed the vest with colleagues - Robert Ennis-Thomas (a technical officer in the discipline of chemistry) and William Armstrong (a technical officer in sport and exercise science), says a JCU release.

“It’s a simple and affordable technology, similar to the chemical cold packs many people carry in their first-aid kits,” Deakin said.

Station Officer Ian Fulton, who took part in trials of the vest, said extreme conditions were exacerbated by the protective gear fire fighters wear. “Body heat can’t dissipate when you’re working in a protective suit, so that increases the risk of dehydration and heat stress.”

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