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New technology: Pill detects when firefighters are overheated

The pills contain a thermometer and transmitter, which help to accurately depict a body's response to extreme heat

By FireRescue1 Staff

VICTORIA, Australia — Australian firefighters are experimenting with a tiny ingestive capsule which may help change how they attack the fire line.

The pill is able to give an individual's core temperature in real time to give a better understanding of a human's vulnerability to heat stress, according to the Australian.

Victoria Country Fire Authority official Peter Langridge said the data they have accrued from the pill trials so far have changed the way firefighters are working blazes, like changing the length of time they are exposed to fires.

50 CFA firefighters swallowed the capsules, which are plastic-coated and contain a thermometer and small transmitter, and went into a burning medical center to evacuate 20 people.

Researchers tested firefighters' core temperatures when they are exposed to temperatures ranging from 26.6 to 255.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

"As the (external) temperature rises, we see the core temperature going up earlier," Langridge told the site.

The capsule has proven to be more accurate than an ear thermometer, as researchers found that firefighters seemed to show symptoms of overheating even though an ear thermometer said their core temperature was normal.

The trial is ongoing and will subject the capsule to temperatures up to 1,112 degrees.

The capsule, after ingestion, is naturally passed within one or two days.

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