ELECTRONIC TEXTILES FOR BATTLEFIELD MEDICS

By Karen Fleming-Michael, Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Public Affairs

FORT DETRICK, Md. (Army News Service, April 21, 2005) — Medics on the not-so-distant battlefield may get assistance with the triage of injured Soldiers from a new system called Warfighter Physiological Status Monitoring (WPSM), using leading-edge technology such as electronic textiles.

“The medic will remotely know who's been injured and who he should go to first versus what we do now - which is have the medic run to and find an injured Soldier, not knowing if another individual is in worse shape just 20 yards to the left,” said Col. Beau Freund of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Mass.

“There's only one medic per a large group of Soldiers, so WPSM can provide situational awareness so a medic knows who is hurt and perhaps the extent of their injuries, so he can make some informed decisions about where he should be to save lives,” Freund said.

A group of experts in physiology, engineering, electronics and textiles is developing WPSM for the Future Force Warrior, an Army science and technology initiative. The team, Freund said, is on schedule to deliver a system in 2006 that at a minimum must be able to detect if a Soldier is alive or has received a ballistic impact. On the preventive medicine side, the WPSM system also needs to be able to detect how much fluid the Solider is drinking and if the Soldier is in danger of a heat injury.

Future Force Warrior, Freund said, “is looking at what is possible and what capabilities we might be able to add to our war fighters in the near future. Let's build some systems, test them and pick from the cream of the crop which ones we want to include now and which ones will require future development.”

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