Project deliverable Open Access

Testing & Validation of the RESCUE MIMS

Sofia Karma; Andrea Gaggioli; Elena Gianotti; Stamatis Giannoukos; Christos Boukouvalas; Nick Panagiotou; Magda Krokida; Pia Ferner; Philippe Besson; Iliana Korma; Marta Burgos Gonzalez; Ana Aldea Reyes; Susana Izquierdo; Iosif Vourvachis; Nikklas Hamman; Nikolae Maruntelu; Alexandru Dumitrascu; Christos Santorinaios

In the framework of D5.3 the testing and validation of the analytical performance of the Rescue-MIMS prototype of TRL6 has been successfully achieved by conducting a number of lab-scale experiments. Specifically, various chemical compounds have been selected with the prospect of studying RESCUE-MIMS performance upon: (a) chemical hazards for the safety of the first responders (b) components relevant to human presence recorded in literature (c) other relevant compounds.
The RESCUE-MIMS system was evaluated by addressing the following analytical criteria: (a) response times (b) linear dynamic range within the examined concentration area, (c) sensitivity (LODs), (d) repeatability. Specifically, RESCUE-MIMS was tested and validated with chlorinated compounds since they are considered potentially hazardous product in case of industrial accidents and because the RESCUE-MIMS will be demonstrated in such a fire industrial incident scenario under UC4. For the same reason, Benzene was also used for testing because it is one of the core compounds of BTX (Benzene, Toluene, Xylene) that is mainly evolved in forest fires and/or industrial fires. Since the RESCUE-MIMS will be also used for detecting compounds relevant to human presence, trying to mimic the rescue dogs’ work by artificial sniffing, laboratory testing with carbon dioxide and acetone has taken place, because these two compounds have been recorded in the literature as characteristic components of expired air. The RESCUE-MIMS prototype has shown excellent linearity within the concentration range that was examined, high sensitivity (limit of detection < 10 ppb), good repeatability (relative standard deviation, RSD < 5%) and response times in real time in few seconds.
Except for the lab-scale experiments, field-scale testing has also been conducted as a preliminary work for identifying key-components to be monitored in the field at the upcoming pilot scenario of UC5-Victims trapped under rubble. RESCUE-MIMS is a promising field technology, as described thoroughly in D5.1 that can be used as a complementary tool to the existing ones in order to help first responders in search and rescue operations; it can be used for on-line monitoring of chemicals that can be related to the safety of the first responders, as well as for possibly tracking “human signs” under rubble. However, trying to mimic the rescue dogs in the disaster scene is quite a complex issue, since hundreds of chemical compounds can be present with different origins. The main challenge is to select a core of components that can be possibly related to alive human under rubbles that can be monitored by the respective field chemical technology, such as the RESCUE-MIMS, in order to support the search and rescue operation while the rescue dogs need to get some rest, or for cross checking a positive response (barking) of a dog. Selecting a small group of compounds for monitoring may improve the analytical performance of a chemical instrument, such as the RESCUE-MIMS, in terms of reducing the response times, as well as increasing the resolution. Though, an important issue when monitoring on-line in the field is to consider the possible background interferences that may create false positives or negatives; for that reason background measurements will be taken by the RESCUE-MIMS in the respective pilots.
In the above context, a field trial has been organised and run by NTUA and HRT in Kalamata, Greece with rescue dogs trained to locate alive people under rubble. The main scope was to record canines’ responses (interest or not) to different chemical mixtures that have been prepared in the laboratory, under the perspective of creating indicative “synthetic odours” of alive humans trapped under rubbles, for future testing of the RESCUE-MIMS. Human odour though, is quite a complex issue and can be affected by a numerous parameters, like gender, diet, habits etc.; hence, a limited number of characteristic substances have been selected beyond these particularities based on literature documentation for preliminary testing.
These innovative experiments have provided some quite promising initial results; the dogs show interest in odours created to emulate those emanating from living people. However, due to the limitations described in the conclusions paragraph, further testing is required for enhancing those results and for more comprehensive conclusions.

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