In the sauna for research: heat stress test for firefighters
What does a person in full firefighting gear do in the sauna and on the treadmill? In a laboratory study, we want to find out how risk awareness and impulsivity change due to heat stress.
In the USA alone, 50 firefighters die each year from the effects of overwork that occur in and through an operation. Rising temperatures in the firefighter’s suit lead to a “tipping point” where firefighters can collapse.
AI and smart textiles can save lives
Here, smart textiles offer the possibility for low-threshold measuring systems to record temperature, humidity and vital parameters. The combination of traditional textiles, smart materials and electronic components brings intelligence into clothing: This provides firefighters with low-threshold support during their work assignments that is independent of other systems. Intelligent algorithms can automatically initiate warnings and interventions based on the sensor data to return vital parameters to a state of well-being.
How do risk awareness and impulsivity develop during heat stress?
Salzburg Research and the University of Salzburg send test persons in firefighting gear to the Salzburg-based manufacturer of high-tech protective clothing Texport, first for half an hour in the sauna and then twice for 20 minutes on the treadmill with a suit, helmet and bottle to raise their core body temperature. In between, the test persons have to pass cognitive tests again and again.
The firefighter’s suit is equipped with textile sensors that measure the amount of perspiration in order to estimate the relative humidity inside the suit. This is because if the humidity is too high, the sweat can no longer be absorbed, which reduces the cooling of the body and can thus lead to a rapid increase in the body’s core temperature, triggering heat stress.
This study examines how risk awareness and impulsivity change as a result of heat stress. From the results we want to deduce that critical point in time when countermeasures should be initiated. This could be a system built into the textile to cool the climate in the suit to protect firefighters from the dangers of heat stress.
More Information on the project: TexSense