Four people rescued after Nepal earthquake thanks to NASA tech

The FINDER device was able to detect the heartbeats of the trapped men.
By Andrew McDonald | May 07, 2015
According to a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory statement, a new technology developed by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the JPL has been used to save the lives of four men trapped since the devastating earthquake in Nepal on April 25.

The apparatus, known as FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) employed microwave-radar to detect the heartbeats of the four men buried under as much as 10 feet of debris. Two FINDER devices were deployed in the quake's aftermath.

The rescued people were in the decimated village of Chautara, buried under two collapsed structures that had each trapped two men. David Lewis, president of S&T commercial partner R4 Inc., traveled to Nepal on April 29. Lewis brought with him two FINDER prototypes and teamed up with members of the Nepali Army and rescuers from China, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

In prior tests, FINDER was able to find people concealed under up to 30 feet of debris, behind 20 feet of concrete, and 100 feet away across an open space. The device can detect heartbeats and provide the location of trapped individuals to within five feet.

"NASA technology plays many roles: driving exploration, protecting the lives of our astronauts and improving--even saving--the lives of people on Earth," said Dr. David Miller, chief technologist at NASA Headquarters. "FINDER exemplifies how technology designed for space exploration has profound impacts to life on Earth."

In a long-planned event on May 7, FINDER was demonstrated in collaboration with Virginia Task Force One. It was announced that FINDER would become a commercial asset, to be made accessible to search and rescue personnel across the globe.


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