• Personal protective equipmentClothing that guards against chemical warfare agents

    Recent reports of chemical weapons attacks in the Middle East underscore the need for new ways to guard against their toxic effects. Scientists report that a new hydrogel coating that neutralizes both mustard gas and nerve agent VX. It could someday be applied to materials such as clothing and paint.

  • EMS personnelCritics question the need to equip EMS personnel with protective gear

    The longer a wounded victim on a scene of a crime must wait for medical treatment, the lower the likelihood of that victim’s survival. Medical personal, however, must wait until the police secure the scene before they are allowed to approach the wounded. More and more EMS units now carry Kevlar helmets and bullet-proof vests with them so they can rush to help the wounded even if the crime scene is not completely secured. Some residents of San Leandro, California say, however, that the decision by the city council to purchase an armored vehicle and convert it into an armored ambulance is going too far.

  • Personal protection equipmentBoxfish shell inspires new materials for body armor

    The boxfish’s unique armor draws its strength from hexagon-shaped scales and the connections between them, engineers have found. The engineers say that the structure of the boxfish could serve as inspiration for body armor, robots, and even flexible electronics.

  • In the trenchesImproved body armor saves money

    The efforts of researchers have now culminated in the first deliveries of more than 148,000 Generation III Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or Gen III IOTV, body armor conversion kits, acquired at approximately half the cost of procuring new systems — $791 versus $413. Best practices from government and industry, soldier feedback, and creative thinking allowed the team to chart a path to upgrade older versions of the IOTV at half the cost of new Gen IIIs.

  • Personal protective equipmentNew foam technology to lead to better protective equipment

    Foam. We wear it. We sit on it. We sleep on it. We even use it to protect ourselves. Whether it is a football helmet, hospital bed, knee pad, or body armor, the foam it contains plays a critical role in making that product both comfortable and safe. Can that foam, however, be transformed into something significantly better, safer and more comfortable? An FSU researcher has developed a brand new, high-performing auxetic foam with a unique ability to get thicker, rather than thinner, when stretched. In practical terms, this counter-intuitive behavior, totally opposite to that of conventional foam, leads to many enhanced materials properties including a better and more comfortable fit that adjusts on the fly.

  • FirefightingImproved structure firefighting glove commercially available

    When responding to structural fires, firefighters wear protective gloves known as “structure gloves” to shield their hands from burns and other injuries. Because structure gloves can be bulky and limit dexterity, firefighters often need to remove the gloves to complete routine tasks, such as handling operating tools or using communications equipment. Without gloves, firefighters’ hands are at a higher risk of injury. DHS S&T partnered with two companies to construct a new, improved structure glove that will provide the full range of protection firefighters need. This next-generation glove provides firefighters with enhanced dexterity, water repellency and fire resistance. The glove is now commercially available.

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  • Protective gearSoldiers, astronauts to be protected by tough, flexible new material

    A team of researchers has developed a revolutionary material that has superior anti-penetration properties while remaining flexible. Inspired by the way nature designed fish scales, the material could be used to make bulletproof clothing for the military and space suits that are impervious to micro-meteorites and radiation when astronauts embark on spacewalks. The material emulates the skins of many species of fish — skins which are flexible, but which also protect the fish by hard scales.

  • FirefightingRedesigning wild-land fire fighter uniforms

    The most common cause of injuries to wild-land firefighters is not burns. When leaders at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) noticed their wild-land firefighters were experiencing more heat stress injuries — like heat exhaustion and heat stroke — than burn injuries, they wanted to know why and how to prevent them. They soon realized their uniforms were part of the problem. Working with a team at the University of California, Davis, they developed technical and design specifications for a new uniform aimed at increasing the comfort and breathability while maintaining the current level of protection against flames. In 2011, CAL FIRE approached the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) requesting assistance in developing prototype garments.

  • EbolaImproved protective suit for Ebola caregivers

    An advanced protective suit for health care workers who treat Ebola patients, devised by a Johns Hopkins University team, is one of the first five awardees in a federal funding contest aimed at quickly devising new tools to combat the deadly disease. The JHU prototype is designed to do a better job than current garments in keeping health care workers from coming in contact with Ebola patients’ contagious body fluids, both during treatment and while removing a soiled suit. In addition, it is expected to keep the wearer cooler — an important benefit in hot, humid regions such as West Africa.

  • Gas masksNew gas mask filtration materials show promise

    Scientists are examining the possibility of metal-organic framework compounds (MOFs) — porous crystalline materials which are made up metal ions and bridged with organics — as a possible evolution in gas mask filtration technology. Thought MOFs may still be a way from real-world application, the impact that they might have on respiration technologies could be significant.

  • Bionic brasBionic bra one step closer

    A Bionic Bra which automatically tightens in response to breast movement is one step closer to reality with the development of a new prototype. The development of the bra is the result of findings by researchers that without the right breast support, the movement of women’s breasts during demanding physical activity – in sports, the military, first response, and more – may cause long-term damage, including numbness in the fingers caused by compression of nerves on the shoulders, as well as neck and back pain. “Unfortunately, the most supportive sports bras tend to be the most uncomfortable to wear.” Making matters worse, “research has found that 85 percent of women are wearing bras that do not fit or support their breasts correctly,” one of the researchers said.

  • Protective gearImproved gas mask protects U.S. soldiers against lethal attacks

    Choking. Watering eyes. Blistering skin. Convulsions. These are all symptoms of a chemical weapons attack that can lead to imminent death. The lethality of such attacks, most recently the one in Syria in August 2013, can send tremors across the globe. For U.S. Army soldiers, however, chemical weapons present a real danger on the battlefield, and one that requires the most advanced technology to keep them safe. Scientists and researchers at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) have been working toward better protective equipment, including the iconic gas mask.

  • First respondersImproving gloves to enhance first responders’ safety

    Firefighters wear protective gloves called “structure gloves” to keep their hands safe on the job. The structure gloves currently used by firefighters, however, are not designed for the precision movements first responders must perform. There are many different types of structure gloves available, but none fully satisfies modern firefighters’ needs. Today’s compact tools often have small buttons that require nimble movements. Bulky gloves can make it difficult for firefighters to complete simple tasks without removing their gloves and compromising their safety. As advanced textile technology and materials continue to develop, the science behind firefighter structure gloves has adapted.

  • Bullet-deflecting accessories16-year old Seattle girl escapes injury: her glasses deflect bullet

    A 16-year old girl escaped potentially life-threatening injury when the glasses she was wearing deflected a bullet fired from a car toward her Seattle home, the Seattle police said. The girl was asleep on her living room couch, with her glasses on, near 10:00 p.m. on Saturday when several shots were fired at the house from a dark-colored sedan. Most of the bullets went through the walls of the house, but one of them went through the front window, striking the bridge of the teen’s glasses. The girl suffered only minor injuries.

  • ConspiraciesDHS: conspiracy theories about DHS purchases unequivocally false

    Conspiracy theorists have pointed to several DHS solicitations for gear and ammunition as “proof” that the department is in the process of creating, training, and equipping a secret force, the purpose of which would be to suppress public dissent – or worse: one blogger wrote that “Another possible conclusion [regarding DHS’s ammo purchases] is that the bullets are intended to coerce and, if need be, kill us.” DHS flatly rejects these conspiratorial assertions as unequivocally false, saying that each and every purchase is in line with past purchases and in support of on-going, legitimate, and transparent departmental operations.