AFOTEC and Alamo Research Laboratory
Operational Utility Evaluation (OUE)
Air Force Operational Test & Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) to determine utility of the exothermic type phase change cool vest for sole source inclusion in the Air Force Firefighting Equipment Tables of Allowance for procurement worldwide.
- Add the exothermic type cool vest to the firefighter's table of allowances. The Cool Vest system has value and enhances mission response for operations in high-heat environments not involving first alarm firefighting operations as it was determined that assembling and donning the vest properly (utilizing the ice & water method) required as much as 90 seconds. To reduce the donning time, it was agreed the cool vests should be previously charged and assembled and stored in a cooling medium.
- Prior to inclusion of the vests into equipment tables' of allowance, develop and publish a concept of employment/operation. Ensure the concept of operations and tables of allowance addresses the support equipment required for charging, storage, and transportation of the Cool Vest system.
- Make the Cool Vest available to all support personnel who are required to perform duty in high-heat environments. Notably, explosive ordnance disposal, hazardous material abatement, and security force personnel could use the system to enhance mission response capabilities.
- A 22% increase in the firefighter's work time was noted. Work time before rise in core body temperature from an average of 33.1 minutes to 40.4 minutes.
- No significant change in core body temperatures, blood pressure or heart rates.
- They felt the constant heat exchange rate enhanced the body cooling effects by minimizing thermal shock generally felt by the vests that use ice or gel as an exchange medium.
- Test participants' comfort levels, primarily influenced by the vest maintaining lower back and chest skin temperatures were rated higher.
- Slower build up of core body temperature while wearing this cool vest.
- Test participant comments and survey responses (qualitative data) indicated that they felt their recovery was enhanced when they wore the vests during and after test events.
- Test participants commented that the vest would be useful, provide additional comfort, and enhance mission accomplishment, when performing any duties requiring long exposure to high-heat environments. Use of the exothermic type cool vests during hazardous material abatement operations was the most common recommendation
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