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Laser rescue system for serious accidents

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2017-10-11

Better technology and modern materials increase the traffic safety and save human life. But they pose totally new challenges for the emergency personnel at the accident site. Because today, tools like hydraulic rescue cutters more and more often reach their limits.

 - Conventional rescue systems more and more often reach their limits with modern materials and time is the crucial criterion.
© Stadt Dortmund – Institut für Feuerwehr- und Rettungstechnologie
Conventional rescue systems more and more often reach their limits with modern materials and time is the crucial criterion.

A mobile laser unit for rescue missions shall solve this problem. The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), six project partners and eight associated partners have teamed up to develop this system. The project is being sponsored by the German government until 2019. In the past 25 years, the number of road traffic deaths has been drastically reduced, and the number of severely injured persons decreased significantly, too. Among others, the declining figures are due to improved passive safety. The use of high-tensile steel and composite materials adds to this.

The higher vehicle stability achieved by using these materials, however, becomes a problem in the event of an accident. Because the available rescue systems, such as power, plasma or hydraulic rescue cutters require a lot of time to cut the car body, or they even fail in individual cases. Time, however, is crucial during a rescue mission. The faster a person is freed, the higher the chances to survive.

This is where the project comes in: a compact laser unit shall be developed that can be used when conventional rescue tools reach their limits. With this system it shall be possible to cut modern materials in a short time, or to broach them so that they can be cut faster with conventional tools. Moreover, it shall be investigated within the scope of the project how the safe use of the laser at the accident site can be guaranteed. Here, it is also being checked, for example, which shut-off devices are required for the system. In addition, the scientists evaluate which measures must be taken to protect the rescue team, the accident victim and uninvolved third parties. This includes curtains, mats and protection glasses. The partners from many different sectors ensure that all relevant aspects are considered.

Among the project partners of the LZH, several industrial companies are involved as well as the city of Dortmund’s Institut für Feuerwehr- und Rettungstechnologie. Associated partners include among others Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und -medizin, Berufsgenossenschaft Energie Textil Elektro Medienerzeugnisse, Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfs­werk and Unfallkasse NRW. The project is being sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the program “Civil safety – innovative rescue and safety systems” until October 2019.

As an independent, non-profit research institute, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) stands for innovative research, development and consulting. The focus lies on the fields of optical components and systems, optical production technologies, and biomedical photonics. Interdisciplinary cooperation between natural scientists and mechanical engineers makes innovative approaches to challenges from the most different areas possible: from the development of components for specific laser systems to process developments for the most diverse laser applications.