Success Story: Man-Down Alarm System
On October 27th of 1995, a blast-furnace gas pipeline exploded in VSŽ, Košice (the East Slovakian Steelworks, the predecessor of U. S. Steel Košice, the largest integrated steel producer in Central Europe). Clouds of toxic fumes escaped into the atmosphere during the explosion, causing 13 people to die and 244 to be injured due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Industries where various hazardous substances are stored and processed in production exist everywhere, and Slovakia is no exception. Improving protection mechanisms and safety of their staff should be of great concern to the management of any industrial plant. Many times, it is only seconds that matter when a person gets in contact with hazardous substances. Their poisonous effects on a human body may have fatal consequences.
What is the Man-Down Alarm System?
In 2004, the Telegrafia company designed and supplied its customer with the first part of the Man-Down Alarm System. The Man-Down Alarm System can be simply characterised as a robust warning system whose main role is to inform emergency services of an incident that happens in an industrial unit. As a result of having inhaled a great amount of toxic gas, the affected person may faint. When found, he or she is helped by their colleagues by being taken out to breathe in fresh air or given first aid. Regarding the fact that the helpers have been in the toxic environment themselves, they frequently end up the same way as the person affected.
Components of Man-Down Alarm System
By the implementation and application of the Man-Down Alarm System, such dangerous situations can be eliminated. The system consists of the following components:
In an emergency, a worker who finds an unconscious person runs to the nearest exit where an MDA button is situated. By pushing the button, the siren is activated and a warning signal issued. The Pavian siren notifies all other workers of the emergency so that they can escape, using the first possible exit route.
The information about the pushing of the button is immediately passed on by radio to the emergency services. They can recognize on the screen (thanks to the Vektra® software equipment) which button has been used, what kind of chemical hazardous to human beings has been detected, and they can see on the map which nearest exit route is available. The rescue units are thus kept informed about the situation and ready to take immediate action, making the rescue operations much more effective.
Modular and backed-up system
The system is modular; therefore, it can be further supplemented with other buttons, modules and sirens, and optimised so that casualties are prevented, or minimised. The Vektra® software controlling the system can run on several computers simultaneously, and therefore it cannot fail in critical situations. The whole system (its buttons, beacons, sirens, and the Vektra® software) is backed-up in case there is a power failure. A dedicated radio frequency is recommended for communication between the individual system components.