Jackson deploys thermal system in COVID fight

200521-A-SO154-003.JPGJames Nelson, CACI International, shows Soldiers how to focus a thermal imaging device May 21. The device is an integral piece of the Thermal Imaging for Fever System, or TIFS as it is commonly called. Fort Jackson is the first military installation to deploy TIFS to screen Soldiers, civilians and contractors for fever, a leading symptom of the COVID-19 virus. (Photo Credit: Alexandra Shea)

By Alexandra Shea                                                                                                                                                                                               Fort Jackson Leader

Fort Jackson is the first military base to deploy the Thermal Imaging Fever System - a small, compact system to be found at the entrance to most battalion headquarters buildings to help win the battle against the spread of the COVID-19 virus through early detection.

“We screened about 300 Soldiers in about an hour,” said James Nelson a CACI International instructor. “We didn’t rush them either, it’s just that quick.”

Nelson was one of two instructors to demonstrate and deploy the TIFS system to Fort Jackson Soldiers representing their battalions. The training class, held May 21 at the Training and Support Center, will allow the 17 Soldiers who attended to deploy, monitor and train other Soldiers to use the system as needed.

“It gives the temperature of a person walking in but allows social distancing of six to eight feet,” said Julian Mendoza, the second instructor. “It’s more accurate because it is used in a controlled environment.”

The thermal device used in the system is a part of a Family of Weapon Sights – Individual thermal weapon sight, something more commonly found being carried by Soldiers on a rifle in the field. When looking through the optic, the user can see silhouettes of humans and animals with varying shades of red, orange and blue that represent the heat signatures produced.

Once connected to the laptop that is included in the system, specialized software reads heat signatures and tells the person monitoring the system if the body temperature is elevated or within normal ranges.

While the software does recognize a Soldiers face, the software doesn’t record facial features according to Mendoza.

“We are one of the first to get this system,” said Sgt. 1st Class Travis Glennon who works in the G3 – Future Operations at Fort Jackson’s Headquarters, Headquarters Battalion, Army Training Center. “It is the most efficient way of taking the temperatures so far. It takes seconds to (screen) a temperature.”

Glennon said the TIFS system can be deployed anywhere it is needed and is much more efficient than the hand-held thermometers used at the installations gates and by drill sergeants. Due to the cycle rate of hand-held thermometers, the TIFS system can easily screen two to three times as many personnel.

As the training installation responsible for producing more than 50% of the nation’s professional trained Soldiers, the TIFS system was deployed first at the 120th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) where newly arrived trainees from across the country begin in-processing for Basic Combat Training.

“We are staying on the offense against COVID-19,” said Brig. Gen. Milford "Beags" Beagle Jr., U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson commanding general, during a recent interview. “New recruits are being scanned for temperatures.”

During the class, Glennon ensured each battalion representative received a TIFS system and each Soldier was given ample time to deploy the system under the watchful eyes of the instructors who were on hand to answer questions and troubleshoot any software or sensor issues alongside the Soldiers.

At the conclusion of the class, each representative returned to their units ready to deploy the system and ensure others can deploy and monitor the system as well.

“It’s a pretty good system that can keep that social distancing,” Mendoza said. “It’s user friendly, efficient and keeps Soldiers and their Families safer.”

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