Monitoring EOD Operatives

My PhD thesis, titled “Body Sensor Networks for Health Monitoring: A Safety Critical Mission Application”, was based around the provision of a predictive monitoring, reporting, and cooling actuation system for wearers of heavy protective clothing. The case study chosen to drive the work was that of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operatives.

Due to the nature of both the EOD suits and the environment they are worn in, heat builds up within the suit and will eventually cause Uncompensable Heat Stress (UHS) in the wearer. This is a condition where the body’s thermoregulatory system is unable to effectively manage the heat produced within the body via the usual method of transfer into the immediate environment. While a cooling system is integrated into the type of EOD suit considered, it is often unfeasible to have it activated for the entire duration of a mission due to concerns such as power usage and noise level. However, the manual actuation of such a cooling system during EOD missions is distracting and potentially dangerous. In addition to this, it is often hard for a person to effectively evaluate their own health to the extent required to avoid over- or under-application of remedial effects.

This research investigated the suitability and utility of a health monitoring system which may be worn within an EOD suit (or other such protective clothing) in order to allow objective assessment of a subject’s health and provide automated actuation of a cooling system based on this information. Data visualisation is made available at a remote monitoring point.

A predictive element was essential in this application to allow cooling actuation and alert generation prior to problems actually being encountered, thus helping to ensure the safety of the EOD operative.