Law enforcement and military personnel will no longer be left alone in the field while under attack, with rescue squads scrambling to locate them.
Ken Brinkley, the senior vice president of Select Engineering Services and a former military veteran and police officer, has invented the AID: Automatic Injury Detection sensor that can be placed in body armor and will automatically alert up to 30 preset cell phone numbers when the armor is pierced by either a bullet or a knife.
Brinkley said one of the major issues for police and military under times of attack is communication.
He said often messages from officers in the field do not come in clearly and if they are under attack, the message may either become quickly outdated or will tip off the attackers to the officer’s location.
However, with AID, the sensor will automatically send out a signal to dispatch, alerting the headquarters of the situation and eliminating the need for human communication.
“What the beautiful thing about this is, if you get shot or stabbed, it sends out a signal in seconds,” Brinkley said in an exclusive interview with R&D Magazine. “So you know exactly where they are at and everyone knows at the same time.
The device also has no tracking capabilities unless it is pierced by a 9 millimeter or .22-caliber projective or blade instrument. When it is pierced, the sensor sends a group text message with global positioning up to preset cell phones, and at the same time the sensor sends the message to the cell phone, it will also send a message to radio communication.
Brinkley said one of the issues during times when officers or military personnel are being attacked is that after they call in their location, they often are forced to move to different locations, meaning the previous call is outdated.
“If you are running, you are not in the same place that you were a minute ago,” he said. “So the data you got a minute ago is old.”
Brinkley said police radios currently have a “hot button” that officers can press when they are under duress. However, Brinkley said officers frequently accidently hit the button and dispatchers are often taught to disregard it.
“The problem is it is pushed all the time, so they are sort of trained to ignore it,” he added.
Brinkley explained that when in dangerous situations involving gunfire, many officers turn off their radios because they do not want their assailants hearing the radio and locating where the officer is located.
“Most officers turn their radio off because it is more important to not give away your position in that environment than it is to talk to your dispatcher,” Brinkley said.
Another problem that is eliminated by using the sensors is that radio calls often come in unclear and it is difficult for the dispatchers to understand the message. Brinkley said it is often difficult to speak clearly in times of duress, and the dispatchers often cannot hear the location being transmitted clearly.
That was how he came up with the idea after hearing one of his calls on the radio played back to him.
“If you asked me before I heard the radio tape, I would have said I spoke slowly and clearly because I thought I did,” Brinkley said. “When you are under duress it just makes everything that much harder.
Law enforcement & military protection
For law enforcement there are a number of situations where the sensors are particularly useful, including when an officer is being ambushed, when communication is required under fire for situational awareness and when command is unaware personnel has been shot. Another benefit is that witness information is often inaccurate.
Brinkley also said he tested the sensor 10 feet under water for 24 hours and it worked just as planned.
The sensor is less than 2 ounces, flexible and can be inserted into existing body armor. It also has an open mic feature so dispatch can listen in at the scene of attack.
According to Brinkley, the armor has already passed an independent test by the military. He said the sensors are connected through the military’s existing network called Nett Warrior, the military situational awareness system used during combat.
“The live fire demonstrated AID’s ability to communicate with Nett Warrior and send the proper message when penetrated,” the military report on AID states. “Soldiers inserted the AID into a standard issue Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) with the detection film located in the back of the plate carrier (between the Kevlar insert and the outer shell), which ensured penetration of the AID using a standard issue M9 (9mm Berretta) and M4.”
Using AID in the field
The first entity to begin using the AID sensor is the Montgomery County Sherriff’s Department in Virginia, who began outfitting body armor with the sensor late in 2016.At a public meeting, Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin predicted the new technology will take off.
“This technology you just saw, nobody else in the country has,” Partin said. “We will be the first to set the standard with this and I’m sure it is going to take off.
“I can tell you a lot of large, well-respected law enforcement agencies are looking at this. We all know that our law enforcement today face more adversity and dangers than ever before,” Partin said. “Montgomery County is not immune to the loss and devastating effects of law enforcement officers line of duty deaths.”
According to Partin, the device will ultimately help save lives.
“If an officer has the Bluetooth on his hip, he’s hit, he’s unable to communicate, he’s down in the middle of the night and nobody knows where he is,” Partin said. “On our old radios we have the emergency button on our mic, that’s what you push when you’re really in trouble and don’t have time to talk.
“Well, if you’re unconscious or if you’ve been stabbed or if you’ve been shot you can’t push a button,” he added. “With the injury detection system and the equipment that would be in the 911 regional center and the new radio that button is going to be activated automatically.”
Partin also said the sensors will be integrated with allergy and other medical information about the officers.
“Not only is it going to tell us where they are and what happened to them but all that person’s pertinent medical information has been entered into the system, so the rescue squad can be on the way to the scene and be calling the hospital for [type] B-negative blood before they even get to the victim.”
Vik Patel, the CEO of DataSoft Corp, the company tasked with providing the electronics and system integration for the sensor, said the reception for AID has been positive thus far.
“Everybody thinks it is a great idea and a well-timed idea because of the events that happen all over the country involving police officers getting hurt,” Patel said in an interview with R&D Magazine. “This is life-saving technology.”
While the intent is for the product to be utilized by law enforcement and the military, Patel said they are currently also discovering ways for civilians to be able to use AID.
“We have talked to hunters and they might want to wear something like this on their body,” Patel said.