A new system from Sandia National Lab is designed to save lives following a bioterror attack:
Sandia National Laboratories researchers have developed a software-based tool called BROOM – short for Building Restoration Operations Optimization Model – to assist in the gathering of samples following a release of biological warfare agents in a public facility.
BROOM is intended to help officials of airports, transportation centers, and high-traffic public buildings during planning for a possible reoccupation and return to service and assist cleanup personnel in restoration operations.
A major piece of the BROOM tool is a hand-held electronic device that assists HazMat crews in collecting and managing the many thousands of samples that are collected to characterize contamination in a facility and to verify that the facility is clean following decontamination.
Sandia researcher Mark Tucker says the main objective of the BROOM project is to develop methods to minimize the economic impact of a release of biological agent by conducting restoration operations more rapidly than can be done now.
“The current process in collecting samples is very cumbersome,” says Tucker. “BROOM helps streamline the process.” HazMat responders can gather samples only during short periods of time due to the heavy gear they must wear, and for safety reasons. To make it easy for the responders to carry the software tool, the researchers assembled a handheld device that incorporates the BROOM software, a barcode scanner, and a wireless laser range finder to accurately identify where the sample was taken.
The device’s scanner reads barcodes placed on vials where the samples are stored. Sample barcodes provide a way to monitor the transfer of samples from the field to the lab. They also help automate the process of merging field data with laboratory results. In addition to barcodes, data specific to each sample are recorded in the handheld device.
Information such as the sample type, surface type, surface orientation, surface area, and surface texture are recorded for each sample. The sample collector records himself as the person who acquired the data and may also write additional information about the sample in a notes field.
The press release…