Fast Company is reporting that European scientists have reconfigured commercially available sensors to identify sweat and spit molecules emitted from people buried in disaster rubble.
These sensors, normally used for scientific research, turned out to easily detect the breath, sweat, and urine from volunteers who pretended to be disaster victims trapped in a collapsed building, even while the faux victims were stuck under simulated concrete. The sensors were able to detect carbon dioxide and ammonia, along with compounds such as acetone and isoprene, through air flumes.
The technology is most likely years away from seeing the light of day, but it could be the demise of the search and rescue dog business model, says Paul Thomas, co-author of the research paper that unveiled the findings.
Emergency first responders carrying breath-and-sweat detectors would be a significantly less expensive expenditure for our cash-strapped federal government than a dog, no matter how high his or her hero quotient is.
According to Search and Rescue Dog Foundation, search and rescue dogs are trained for an average of three years at an eye-opening cost of $10,000 per pooch, before they’re even ready to hit the scene of a disaster.