S&T Assesses Portable Instruments That Help First Responders Identify Unknown Chemicals
First responders arrive first on the scene when disaster strikes or terrorists attack. They often encounter dangerous conditions like smoke and chemicals. To best help in situations like these, they need to know the chemical substances present onsite. This is where analytical field instruments such as Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometers (GC/MS) come into play. But to acquire such technology, first responders first need to know which GC/MSs suit both their needs and their budgets.
That’s where the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate‘s (S&T) System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) Program steps in. The SAVER Program, managed by S&T’s National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL), conducts assessments and validations of commercial technology to save money and time for first responders when they need to purchasing high quality equipment.
“It is like a consumer report,” said John Kada, NUSTL Test Director for a recent GC/MS assessment. “Our report provides evidence how the instruments performed with respect to the evaluation criteria.”
In July, Kada oversaw the assessment of three portable field GC/MSs used for analyzing chemical samples. Results from the assessment will be published in a report, to provide practical information for emergency responder organizations seeking an instrument best suited to their needs.
Since its inception in 2004, the SAVER Program has assessed hundreds of emergency response technologies, and more than 1,000 emergency responders—law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency managers—have participated in those assessments. This subject matter expertise during the assessments ensures technologies will meet first responders needs.
S&T developed the recent GC/MS assessment in cooperation with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). A focus group consisting of first responders met in February 2019 to decide on the evaluation criteria. Most of the focus group members returned to participate in the July assessment.
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From:: CBRNe World (CBRN)