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Why Ultrasound?

Think of finding a firefighter as the process of solving a maze. When you sit down and try to figure out your strategy, you first need to identify the start and finish of the maze, and then you need to navigate the path between the two points. Ultrasound provides that path, and more effectively than any other system on the market.

Ultrasound has been used for more than a hundred years in sonar and other underwater applications, and for almost fifty years in medical imaging systems. It works on the same principles utilized in nature by bats, dolphins, shrews, and whales.

Field trials have shown the Pathfinder™ system (utilizing Pulse™ technology) to reduce as much as 50-80 percent of the time it would normally take to locate a firefighter in a blind search within a smoke-filled structure. That precious time dramatically increases the chances of making a successful recovery.

How does ultrasound compare to other systems on the market? Take, for example, radio frequency. One of the apparent advantages of using a radio frequency (RF) approach is that some radio waves can penetrate walls, allowing a firefighter to "see through walls." A serious problem arises from this. Essentially, RF indicates the shortest path as the crow flies, which is often through walls and other obstructions. It can indicate paths without doorways or other openings. When a firefighter is low on air, you don't want to spend time breaching when you could be navigating the clear path to him or her. Imagine the time it would take to cut through a concrete wall. Now imagine how much how much of that crucial time could be saved if you were given a path around that wall. Ultrasound provides that path.

Ultrasound does not penetrate a solid wall. The ultrasound Tracker can "see" around corners and behind obstacles because the signal is reflected by walls and other solid surfaces. When the Tracker detects a Beaconís signal, it indicates 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. Ultimately, the use of RF technology can result in a longer and less effective search than the use of ultrasound.

When ultrasound is used in conjunction with PASS devices, the rescue time decreased dramatically. When you try to locate a PASS device with your ears, you hear sound in all directions. When your vision is very limited, or altogether gone, this can become incredibly confusing. Echoes and non-directional hearing can often lead firefighters in the wrong direction, wasting large amounts of time. The Tracker, on the other hand, only listens in a very specific direction. The unit will tell you the intensity of the signal in the direction pointed. When the largest signal is found, that is the direction of the quickest path to the firefighter.

Any search and rescue personnel who might need to be rescued can use the Pathfinder&trade system, including firefighters, FEMA personnel, police department personnel, and military personnel. By utilizing ultrasound, Pulse technology will help you to maneuver around walls and locate doorways. It is a high-tech, electronic rope that will help you find missing rescue workers efficiently and effectively.

For more information, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions section.

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