The Air Force Research Laboratory, 711 Human Performance Wing, Human Effectiveness Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, is developing the Battlefield Automatic Life Status Monitor (BALSM). The Air Force device being developed in coordination with QinetiQ, will provide remote physiologic life status monitoring for triage, rescue, or recovery, and will be able to provide a health status history over time for each person.
Pararescue jumpers and other medical personnel will be able to remotely determine a warfighter’s health status on the battlefield with sensors designed to be worn and ingested. The primary sensor is a wireless pulse oximetry unit that can measure the amount of oxygen in the blood and able to estimate heart rate and respiration, plus the sensor contains an accelerometer to determine if a person is standing, sitting, lying down, or moving.
This sensor is worn against the forehead and can be worn as a headband or the sensor can be integrated into the helmet. The sensor emits both visible and infrared light that reflects off the skull to obtain the pulse oximetry.
The other sensor in the device is a wireless capsule that when ingested, measures core body temperature. At this point, the information is sent to the pararescue jumpers or other medical personnel through a radio receiver equipped with monitoring software that sends the information to a computer. The capsule that measures core body temperature is an ingestible, medical-grade, FDA approved sensor.
According to Dr. Dianne Popik, Program Manager with the Human Effectiveness Directorate, Warfighter Interface Division, Battlespace Acoustics Branch, “The devices are especially advantageous for Special Operations Forces who may be in an area where they cannot communicate out loud. It can help commanders decide if they have enough healthy troops to continue a mission or if plans need to change. BALSM also could assist in determining rescue versus recovery efforts.”
“BALSM has commercial applications. Remotely measuring core body temperature would be ideal for people who are running triathlons and for use by many other athletes”, said Dr. Popik. “BALSM could also be beneficial to firefighters, when they see persons in extreme situations and you need to know their health status. The device could also assist in field triaging situations where a single medic monitors multiple patients and needs to be alerted to any immediate change in the health status of the patients.”