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FAQ: Pathfinder™ Questions
19. Are Pathfinder™ and Pulse™ the same?
Yes, they are the same. When Summit Safety and Survivair teamed up together in early 2004, it was decided that the name Pathfinder better described the unique path-finding capabilities of an ultrasound approach. Since then, Pulse has become fully integrated into some SCBA's and a whole new development program was launched to integrated the technology into other firefighting equipment. Pulse, which stands for Personnel Ultrasonic Locating Safety Equipment, is still the fundamental technology that drives the Pathfinder system.

20. Can the Tracker “see” through walls?
Ultrasound does not penetrate a solid wall. However, the Tracker can “see” around corners and behind obstacles because the sound is reflected by walls and other solid surfaces. If a Tracker detects a Beacon’s signal, that means that there is a path that can be followed back to the Beacon. Thus the Pathfinder system will not lead a rescuer down a blind alley to a wall where time-consuming breaching will be necessary, or even impossible.

21. How is a Firefighter Beacon different from any other Beacon?
A Firefighter Beacon is designed specifically for firefighters. In order to make Pathfinder Mutual Aid capable, Firefighter Beacons all need to transmit on a specific frequency or channel. In an emergency, a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) would only want to find the firefighter who is in trouble. By combining ALL Firefighter Beacons with the PASS Device, we found a good method to know when to transmit the emergency Beacon signal. When the PASS alarms, the Beacon alarms.

22. Do the Beacons transmit ultrasound all the time?
Yes and no. Only a Firefighter Beacon in “alarm” mode will be transmitting ultrasound. All other types of Beacons are designed to transmit ultrasound continuously.

23. Does each firefighter use a different ultrasonic frequency?
No. All firefighter Beacons operate at the same ultrasonic frequency. Only a Firefighter Beacon in “alarm” mode will be actively transmitting an ultrasonic homing signal. This is what allows all Trackers to be Mutual Aid compatible with other fire departments.

24. How many frequencies can the Tracker pick up?
Three. Each Tracker is designed to detect the following: Firefighter Beacons, Exit Beacons, and Auxilary Beacons. Firefighter Beacons are used by firefighters. Exit Beacons are designed to mark the location of an exit, allowing firefighters to find the quickest path there. The Auxilary Beacon frequency is used for different purposes. In the future, Beacons will be designed to help firefighters find where children, and even pets, are hiding inside a structure. For wide-area fires and searches, such as large department stores or warehouses, Auxilary Exit Beacons can be used to leave "breadcrumbs" back to the exit.

25. Will any Tracker work with any Beacon?
Yes. All Beacons are designed to operate on one of the three frequencies described in Question 24. All Trackers are designed so that they can recieve all three frequencies. Even if certain products are under develpment, or are even just concepts right now, forward and backward compatability has and will be designed into all Pathfinder products.

26. What is the difference between an Exit Beacon and an Auxilary Exit Beacon?
Think of a large-area fire in a department store. One search team went into the building and left a trail of Exit Beacons behind them in order to find their way back out. Now some firefighters from a second search team are near the exit to the building, but are detecting Exit Beacons at both the exit and farther into the building? Where do THEY go? If the first team placed Exit Beacons on a different frequency at all of the "internal" locations, then the second team now knows EXACTLY which way to go.

This situation is very similar to following a hose out of a structure. When you find the hose, try to figure out which is the male coupling and follow it to the pumper. Sometimes this is hard to do and you wind up finding the nozzle. It would greatly speed up the process if you could "find the male coupling" for the Exit Beacon. Well you CAN when you put only Exit Beacons at the actual exit points.

27. How many Beacons and Trackers are needed for a Fire Department?
We recommend that there should be one Beacon for every firefighter who might need to be rescued. At a minimum, this would be the number of SCBA units. At a maximum, this would be the number of firefighters in the Department.

We also recommend that there should be one Tracker for every piece of apparatus that could arrive at a fire scene. This would insure that there would always be a Tracker at every fire scene. In addition, one Exit Beacon should be kept with each Tracker so that there is a method to distinguish an exit. Auxilary Exit Beacons are optional, and numbers would vary on the department's preferences.

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Updated 05/10/05
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