Testing the physiological strain Alpha model


As one of the first milestones of the WP6, preliminary predictive model to assess the first responders’ strain was proposed. This Alpha version is based on the exiting models, modified to consider the main physiological variables that will be integrated into the SIXTHSENSE system for the Alpha prototype.

In the first months of 2021, the proposed physiological strain Alpha model was tested through a set of pilot laboratory tests at University of Leon, Spain (ULE), in collaboration with the group from Joanneum Research, Austria (JR).

The main aim in these pilot tests was to explore the performance of the proposed model for tracking the physiological strain. The sports science department of the University of Leon (VALFIS Research Group) led the effort in the pilot trials as the project partner with extensive experience in both collaborative work with first responders and health-related physical fitness and performance assessment.

scientist in a laboratory
Working atmosphere during the pilot tests in ULE’s laboratory.

Participants of the experiment performed predefined physical exercises in ULE’s laboratory, where environmental conditions (humidity, temperature, etc.) were controlled. During the experiment they wore wildland firefighters’ personal protection equipment (weighing almost 6 kg) over the equipment needed to acquire physiological parameters.

The exercises were specifically designed and rigorously administered to elicit specific levels of physiological strain, allowing the system to record the physical responses of interest for the SIXTHSENSE research.

Physiological parameter acquisition equipment placement (left) and a participant during an exercise (right).

In addition, the pilot tests have proven the feasibility of combining this protocol with the psychological and cognitive assessment designed by JR. This is a major step towards achieving the experimental study designs where physiological and psychological aspects can be jointly explored.

Participant performing JR’s psychological and cognitive tests.

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and while following the recommended precautions, the main model-testing protocol was established and verified. These results bring us closer to the Alpha demonstrator field testing.
To be continued in Rijeka, Croatia…