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Big Ears

Texas Task Force 1, based in College Station, TX, hosted the fourth State Urban Search and Rescue Alliance Conference (SUSAR) held in February for more than 100 emergency response managers from 21 states, including as far away as Alaska.

Among the devices on exhibit were Big Ears, invented by Bill Russell, a 24-inch-wide parabolic microphone that weighs five pounds. Depending on the environment and surrounding noise levels Big Ears can amplify a target area 30 inches in diameter from 100 feet away. It's effective range is 500 feet.

Little Ears, a smaller version of the device, was also on display.

Jim Bastan, task force leader with New Jersey Task Force One, said that his group was in the process of purchasing both the Big Ears and Little Ears equipment.

"We're pretty impressed with its capabilities and its ability to find victims that would otherwise be very difficult for us to find," Bastan said.

Unlike other accoustic equipment presently used by New Jersey Task Force One, Big Ears and Little Ears can detect the presence of a victim from a distance without risking personnel to place the device, Bastan said.

SUSAR, which was formed in 2005, serves as an outlet for states to create and maintain their own statewide urban search and rescue team for incidents that may overwhelm jurisdictions, but are not large enough for federal assistance. Members work together to address a variety of emergency response issues, including search and rescue, medical needs, hazardous materials response and logistics.

Along with Bill Russell of Crystal Partners, the Big Ears-Little Ears table was staffed by Bill Falbo of North American Sales, a company that has joined in partnership with Crystal Partners to sell the parabolic microphones.         o

See Big Ears-Little Ears at Booth # 112 at the IFW Emergency Responder Conference & Expo March 26-30 in Beaumont, TX.


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