Breakthrough pill can potentially protect firies from heat stress

A data-transmitting pill has the potential to save lives of many firefighters on the front line.

According to, when ingested, the capsule can relay a person's temperature in real time thus providing a better view of how the body can tolerate heat.

Fifty CFA firefighters were given the Equivital EQ02 LifeMonitor capsule to monitor their body's reaction to heat during a training exercise in which they had to evacuate 20 people from a burning medical centre.

During the drill, a thermometer and a transmitter from within the pill forwarded data to a device worn on the chest which collects skin temperature, heart and respiration rate data. The information is then transmitted to a computer. further reported that the research examined the firefighters' core temperature when they are exposed to temperatures ranging from -3C to 124C, for about 20 minutes. Changes observed in the body's core temperature gave researchers more information about a person's danger periods.

When the subjects' temperatures where increasing rapidly, they were removed from the place to a rehabilitation area.

The pill is expelled from the body naturally within one or two days from ingestion.

This device was also used to measure the vital signs of Australian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner during his world-record jump to earth from space.

Further research on the pill will be conducted, with tests planned to temperatures from 100Cto 600C.

Victoria's Country Fire Authority health and wellbeing officer Peter Langridge said the research has led to changes in the firies' work patterns.

"Working in hot environments will stress different people at different rates. There is no set formula for how long a person can fight a fire before they start suffering from heat stress or dehydration and management is the key to protecting our fire fighters," said Mr Langridge.

The CFA started to look for ways to better protect firefighters from heat stress after the standard test of measuring temperature through the ear was discovered to be ineffective.

"We were seeing firefighters that still looked heat-stressed, even though the temperature on the ear probe was showing normal," said Mr Langridge.

Along with the Equivital EQ02 LifeMonitor capsule, upgraded versions of Personal Protective Clothing (PPC) and flash hoods were also tested on the firefighters.

The Equivital EQ02 LifeMonitor capsule was created by Equivital, a UK-based company manufacturing mobile human monitoring devices.