SES' AID can send alerts via Sprint's cell service when an officer's vest is pierced.(Photo: Sprint)

SES' AID can send alerts via Sprint's cell service when an officer's vest is pierced.(Photo: Sprint)

When a bullet or edged weapon pierces a law enforcement officer's ballistic vest, it means an officer is in danger and likely injured. The faster other officers and medical personnel can respond to provide assistance, the better. Getting these people information about the officer, the injury, and details of the scene is essential to facilitating quick response. But what if the officer is incapacitated and unable to put this information out over the radio? How will responders find the injured officer if he or she is away from the department vehicle? New technology can help.

The Automated Injury Detection (AID) device uses a high-tech fabric with sensors to recognize when an officer has been shot or stabbed in the vest. Within a few seconds it sends a notification via the officer's Android smartphone to up to 30 phone numbers. These pre-programmed numbers can include those of other officers and medical personnel. The notification includes a special audible tone as well as a text that provides the officer's identity, where the officer is located on a map with GPS coordinates, where the officer was hit (front, back, upper chest, lower chest, upper back, lower back), and any preloaded information such as blood type and allergies.

Sprint is offering the AID device, valued at $500, for free to new law enforcement customers who purchase a new line of cellular service valued at $29.99 or more per month. "This was something we felt we could do to help law enforcement," says Jim Spillane, Director of Public Sector for Sprint. "It's all about keeping officers safer."

Select Engineering Services (SES) developed and patented AID, and the company is partnering with Sprint to provide this bundled solution to law enforcement. Understanding firsthand the nature of being attacked, SES employees who are former law enforcement and military developed the technology to help save incapacitated police officers and soldiers, says Ken Brinkley, SES Senior Vice-President and AID co-inventor. "It makes the officers and the community far more resilient to active shooters and attacks," he says. 

For the system to work, an officer must be wearing the very thin AID panels that slide into his or her concealed ballistic vest carrier: one in the front and one in the back. They are made of a very thin fabric, either mylar or cloth based on officer preference, that has a conductive ink sensor circuit printed on it. A very small battery-powered sensor is attached to each panel. Once the fabric is pierced by a blade or a bullet as small as .22 caliber, the circuit is broken and the sensor initiates the notification via Bluetooth using the officer's smartphone and cellular network. If an officer's AID panel is shot or stabbed, SES will replace it free of charge.

For agencies interested in taking advantage of Sprint's cellular service bundle offer, the company will handle the set-up process. "We will coordinate everything," says Sprint's Spillane. "We'll review the solution with the officer, figure out the best handset device, and put everything on order through Sprint. Then SES will work with the officer to provide the AID."

This system can also be programmed in conjunction with an officer's radio system so that on impact it will open up the mic. This allows officers and dispatchers to hear what is happening at the injured officer's location. They may then be able to determine more information about the scene for better response. "This now changes the dynamic of the situation if they know what they're going into," says Spillane. "It gives them access to more information, which is the most important thing."

Sprint's service bundle of cell service and free AID devices is available now, and law enforcement agencies can request demonstrations. For these demos, an officer shoots an AID-equipped vest equipped being worn by a target dummy. This initiates the notification system that has been set up with the participating officers' phone numbers and radios so they can experience receiving the alerts.  

"It's chilling when you hear the tone go off and hear 'officer down' come over the radio," says Spillane. "When you hear it during those live-fire shoots, it brings home how important this can be in saving officers' lives."