High tech solutions keep firefighters healthy

Call for code winner Prometeo developed a wearable device that monitors the health of firefighters in the field to safeguard them against dangerous levels of toxin and smoke inhalation.

Containing the Flames

In 2020, it seemed like the world was on fire. Millions of acres burned in Australia, Brazil, the United States, and even the Arctic. Containing the flames is treacherous work; 400 wildland firefighters have died on the job in the past 20 years. Even riskier is their long-term exposure to smoke, carbon monoxide, and other toxins, leaving wildland firefighters at greater risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and serious respiratory infection.

With Arrow’s help, Barcelona-based startup Prometeo is working to deploy a new technology solution that will safeguard the health of firefighters in the field. Prometeo’s platform tracks data through a wearable device that measures key variables such as temperature, humidity, and smoke concentration. The device uses a machine-learning model to distill that information into a simple, color-coded health status that displays on a digital wristband. Commanders at HQ can pull an individual off of the front line if they’re in immediate danger or if they approach long-term exposure limits to various toxins.

In 2019, Prometeo won the global Call for Code Global Challenge, a humanitarian technology solutions contest sponsored by the U.N. and IBM, along with Arrow. With new data, Arrow and IBM will help Prometeo develop a 4.0 version so the startup can scale to production sooner.