Defense Media Network

Scarf-like Mask Can Protect at a Moment’s Notice



As written by ECBC Public Affairs, Oct. 20, 2015.

Army researchers have developed a simple, comfortable wrap-style respiratory protective mask for protection against riot control agents. The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, known as ECBC, is making it as a simple as putting on a surgical mask.

ECBC researchers Dave Caretti, Dan Barker, and Doug Wilke, developed the idea for the solution from specialized operators who expressed a need for a protective mask to protect against riot control agents such as 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, also known as CS, or tear gas.

The final design is a simple, comfortable wrap that can be donned without removing any head-borne gear. The wrap includes a material with one-way stretch and can be pulled around the user’s headphone ear cups, as well as the back of the protective helmet for full protection.

The operators also wanted a mask that could protect users who have beards, or must operate with other unique head-borne equipment.

Currently, users wear a traditional full general protective mask when disseminating riot agent. This mask is a hard material and the user must remove any existing equipment on their face in order to put it on. This process can take time that operators might not have during emergency situations.

“The solution we envisioned would easily integrate with the user’s helmet, communications headphones and protective eyewear, so that it could provide a simple solution for all users,” Caretti said.

Members of law enforcement who use CS and other riot control agents could also use this type of mask when necessary and avoid wasting time with a traditional full face piece respirator that requires the removal of protective helmets and other head-borne items.

scarf-like system

Army researchers Dave Caretti (right) and Dan Barker (left) instruct and assist two soldiers using the innovative mask. The scarf-like system could protect users who have beards, or must operate with other unique head-borne equipment. ECBC Public Affairs photo

In order to begin work on this proposed solution, Caretti, Barker and Wilke entered their proposal for the mask they called the “Integrated Respiratory and Eye Protective Scarf,” or IREPS to to the research center’s Internal Innovative Development of Employee Advanced Solutions Program.

The program is designed to support innovative employee proposals during one year. The idea was accepted to the program and the team had one year to make a difference.

First, the team started to do research to understand more about CS. The team partnered with commercial vendors to get donations of materials that protect against particulates and vapors.

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