DHS S&T Challenges Inventors to Help First Responders Breathe Easier

The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate has launched a competition for new respirator technology to help first responders and evacuators cleanly breathe during chemical, biological, radiological and other hazardous situations. The winner of the Escape Respirator Challenge will receive a $100,000 prize, plus $50,000 to build a functional model of their design. Second- and third-place winners will also win $50,000 to build their models. 

DHS found that the current escape hoods and respirators are bulky, do not provide oxygen and are heavy.

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“Through this challenge, we are reaching out to the scientific community for innovative compact design solutions that will eventually help people evacuate from toxic or smoke-filled environments,” said William N. Bryan, acting DHS under secretary for Science and Technology. “This challenge will allow S&T the opportunity to equip first responders and others with essential protective gear.”

The equipment must be compact, lightweight and provide oxygen.

“While some current designs have incorporated solutions for one of these shortcomings, none have been found to meet all requirements,” S&T Program Manager Dr. Donald Bansleben said.

The deadline for registration is 5 p.m. EST on April 11, 2019, and submissions are due at 5 p.m. on May 30. The submissions will go through two rounds of scoring by an expert evaluation panel and finalists will participate in a demonstration panel with a selection committee.

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Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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