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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Public Affairs Office

Date: September 8, 2008
No: 08-30

Military technology to assist First Responders discussed during visit of Mass. Secretary of Public Safety and Security

Secretary of Public Safety and Security for Massachusetts, Kevin M. Burke, and the Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem, stand with a manikin displaying the Law Enforcement Advanced Protection (LEAP) uniform while visiting the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., on Aug. 21.  (Photo by Richard Walunas.)

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NATICK, Mass. --   On Aug. 21, the Secretary of Public Safety and Security for Massachusetts, Kevin M. Burke, and the Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem, visited the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) here.

After an overview about the installation and the types of research and development work that is performed at the SSC, Burke and Kayyem received briefings on some specific programs and equipment.

Dave Carney, National Protection Center (NPC), spoke about how after the Oklahoma City bombings, the government began looking to improve capabilities for first responders. The NPC works to help accomplish this by their work on standards, specifically in regard to personal protective equipment.

“There are very few standards in place,” he said. “There are gaps between what groups have, want and are available to them.”

Carney continued by explaining how the NPC looks at streamlined Soldiers and sees what capabilities could be used for the first responder and/or law enforcement community.

“Soldiers and first responders have some of the same issues,” he said. “Bulk, weight, heat, compatibility.” Mentioning that the NPC works in close conjunction with the Massachusetts State Police, Carney mentioned that the organization has subject matter experts who can work with first responders and assist them by doing surveys, ergonomic assessments and more.

After a briefing on ballistic protection, Jeremy Whitsitt of the Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD) showed the visitors the Unitized Group Ration – Express (UGR-E), which can be used for remote feeding. Often called the “kitchen in a carton,” the UGR-E is a complete self-heating meal in a box. 

“We have tested them at high altitude, cold environments and they are being used in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Whitsitt said. “They perform well for us. We recently worked with the NPC to see if first responders could also benefit.”

Carney said they have been working with the Department of Homeland Security Commercialization Office to commercialize the UGR-E. The idea is the meals could be provided for first responders on a scene, not for a civilian population, he continued.

Burke joked that Kayyem wanted them for her house for winter.      

After a visit to a CFD microbiology lab and a discussion on food safety, the visitors got a chance to see the Doriot Climatic Chambers, which can simulate an extreme range of global weather conditions. Kayyem thought the Chambers were “interesting.”

Maj. William Latzka, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), spoke on the Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor (WPSM) in addition to the Chambers. The WPSM lets an observer view heart rate, respiration and core temperature from a remote location. Although USARIEM is doing research for military medical personnel, their researchers see other uses. Latzka mentioned how USARIEM worked with the National Guard 1st Civil Support Team (CST) from Wellesley during training exercises to test the WPSM. The group had been looking for a medical monitoring telemetry system and the partnership let the CST see the item’s capabilities and USARIEM researchers got to see how the WPSM would perform in a real environment.

Information and displays from the Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems team were next, and Burke and Kayyem were especially interested in the Force Provider System. Force Provider is the Army’s premier base camp. It is a containerized, highly deployable “city.” Force Provider is a compilation of military and commercial products containing all the material necessary to provide climate-controlled billeting, quality food and dining facilities, hygiene services, laundry systems and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities to support approximately 600 personnel.

Kayyem inquired about the cost and the size. Mike Hope, Force Provider Team, said for the entire base camp, the cost is $11 million, but that includes everything except fuel and water. “Everything else, down to bath towels, is included,” he said. Mentioning that for 600 people, the containers fit on eight C-17 aircraft, he said the base camp takes up approximately five acres. He also told the visitors about an expeditionary system for Force Provider that is modular and supports 150 personnel.

A water reuse system that the team is finishing testing was another topic discussed. “It recaptures 75 percent of the water,” Hope said, “which not only provides huge savings but it also takes Soldiers off the road.”

Chemical and biological protective shelters, including liner systems, filtration systems, and cost, were another area that the visitors showed a lot of interest in.

The day closed out with a briefing and tour of SSC’s new Thermal Test Facility.

Kayyem said it was a “great day.”

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