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The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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Professor leads research on safety sensor for first responders

Courtesy of Marianne Prévôt
Marianne Prévôt and fellow researchers with their completed safety device.

A device as small as a chip may one day save the lives of those who are first responders. 

Marianne Prévôt, an assistant professor in chemistry and biochemistry, led research on the safety sensor, a small device designed to detect toxic chemicals and gasses in the air to protect first responders. 

Prévôt said the main group of first responders they are looking to give the sensor out to is firefighters. 

“Our first target audience is really firefighters,” Prévôt said. “And the reason why is because when they go to a fire they don’t know what they’re exposed to.” 

The research for the sensor was financed through several different sources, such as grants and partners, Prévôt said.   

Prévôt said after the first design, they realized the sensor could be a product, and because of this, they quickly needed to market it to consumers. 

“Within our first design, we understood that it could be a product, so then really what was important to us was to transfer this technology into commercialization,” Prévôt said. “And the National Science Foundation Program helped us with some funding.” 

Prévôt explained the device needed to be small, compact and easily portable for the first responders because firefighters cannot carry anything extra. 

“Protection would need to be lightweight, because they just go with the backpack for two weeks in a fire to try to extinguish a fire, so they cannot, you know, carry oxygen,” Prévôt said. 

James Samels, a captain and the acting fire chief at the Kent Fire Department, said the sensor would work in their favor, having a great impact on their firefighters. 

“I think it would be a positive,” Samels said. “A toxic environment is one of the things that all of our gear and safety equipment is built to try to keep us away from.”

Their gear is designed to create a personal environment for themselves so having a device to notify them of anything harmful would be beneficial, Samels said.

As of now, there is nothing like the sensor within the business however, there are gas meters that can detect things such as carbon monoxide. These devices are handheld, but they do not have one for everyone. 

Samels said if the safety sensor being designed by Prévôt is within a reasonable price range and doesn’t change how they do their job, then it would make a difference. 

“If it was affordable, if it was readily available, if we could put it somewhere on our gear where it would not compromise the integrity of our gear, then absolutely, there is no reason not to,” Samels said. 

MinJee Yoo is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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