DHS S&T Announces Finalists in Escape Respirator Challenge

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has announced three finalists for the first stage of the $250,000 Escape Respirator Challenge.

S&T issued the Challenge seeking new concepts for a compact, discreetly-carried escape respirator that can be donned quickly for safe egress from smoke-filled, oxygen-deficient, and chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) environments.

“One of DHS S&T’s key priorities is to equip our first responders with technologies that allow them to do their jobs safely and effectively against all hazards,” said William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “I am eager to see the innovative ideas from these finalists developed into technologies that can help first responders evacuate from toxic or smoke-filled environments.”

Although commercial solutions for escape hoods or respirators exist, most currently-available models lack an oxygen delivery mechanism for respiratory protection when worn in an oxygen-deficient environment, such as a smoke-filled room. They also do not have the small form factor, in packaging or weight reduction, sought through this Challenge.

The first stage of the Challenge called upon the innovation community to submit relevant, useable, effective and feasible concepts that provide oxygen and protect the user against aerosolized CBR hazards. Each finalist will receive $50,000 to expand their concepts and develop working prototypes and advance to Stage II where they will demonstrate their prototypes and compete for a final cash prize of $100,000.

The finalists are:

  • Elmridge Protection Products, LLC (Boca Raton, Florida):The Elmridge iEvac E700 Mini-ReBreather delivers a controlled flow from an oxygen generator to a sealed hood with an oral-nasal mask and integrated carbon dioxide scrubber. The closed-circuit configuration provides positive pressure protection, maintains the oxygen level, and miniaturizes the respirator by eliminating a separate breathing bag.
  • Team VITNI (SeaTac, Washington):The Hazard Occlusion and Oxygen Device (HOOD) is a simple and lightweight device that enables egress from hazardous environments and consists of a 360-degree transparent PVC EX plastic hood, a ring-shaped oxygen concentrator, and a charcoal filter placed uniformly around the bottom portion of the hood.
  • UP Enterprizes, LLC (Buffalo Grove, Illinois):The Multiple Air Source Quick-don (MASQ) combines a closed-circuit re-breather, chemical oxygen generator, and filters with a transparent fire-resistant hood. The design of the system provides compact and reliable protection for a safe escape from areas affected by CBR hazards.

Learn more about the finalists and see videos of their innovative ideas here

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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