Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Hicks, a senior drill sergeant with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, uses his mobile phone to track the core body temperatures of Pfc. Joe Njuki (right) and Pvt. Cedric Shields Monday outside the Charlie Company barracks. To help keep trainees safer during the warmest months here, the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence is facilitating the trial at Initial Entry Training units of a technology called Improving Health Outcomes Through Technology, or IHOTT. Developed at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts, the technology allows cadre to continuously and accurately measure the core body temperatures of every trainee in the unit in real time via body sensors and a downloadable smart-phone application.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Hicks, a senior drill sergeant with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, uses his mobile phone to track the core body temperatures of Pfc. Joe Njuki (right) and Pvt. Cedric Shields Monday outside the Charlie Company barracks. To help keep trainees safer during the warmest months here, the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence is facilitating the trial at Initial Entry Training units of a technology called Improving Health Outcomes Through Technology, or IHOTT. Developed at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts, the technology allows cadre to continuously and accurately measure the core body temperatures of every trainee in the unit in real time via body sensors and a downloadable smart-phone application. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL
The Improving Health Outcomes Through Technology, or IHOTT, system uses color-coded boxes to represent individuals. When a box is red, cadre know that individual needs to perform additional heat mitigation techniques to bring down their core body temperature. The system also tracks heart rate and skin surface temperature via a device strapped just below the sternum.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Improving Health Outcomes Through Technology, or IHOTT, system uses color-coded boxes to represent individuals. When a box is red, cadre know that individual needs to perform additional heat mitigation techniques to bring down their core body temperature. The system also tracks heart rate and skin surface temperature via a device strapped just below the sternum. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL
The Improving Health Outcomes Through Technology, or IHOTT, system uses color-coded boxes to represent individuals. When a box is red, cadre know that individual needs to perform additional heat mitigation techniques to bring down their core body temperature. The system also tracks heart rate and skin surface temperature via a device strapped just below the sternum.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Improving Health Outcomes Through Technology, or IHOTT, system uses color-coded boxes to represent individuals. When a box is red, cadre know that individual needs to perform additional heat mitigation techniques to bring down their core body temperature. The system also tracks heart rate and skin surface temperature via a device strapped just below the sternum. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Summers can be quite hot and humid in the Missouri Ozarks, and finding ways to mitigate heat-related injuries here is important to the mission of turning America’s sons and daughters into Soldiers.

To help keep trainees safer during the warmest months here, the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence is facilitating the trial at Initial Entry Training units of a technology called Improving Health Outcomes Through Technology, or IHOTT.

According to Oscar Powers, MSCoE’s Safety director, the system — developed at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts — allows cadre to continuously and accurately measure the core body temperatures of every trainee in the unit in real time via body sensors strapped just below the sternum and a downloadable smart-phone application.

Powers said the technology is already being used with great success during the Sapper Leader Course — it was also employed during this year’s Best Sapper Competition — and two IET units have now used IHOTT, with several more scheduled to help assess its feasibility through the rest of the fiscal year.

One of those units was Company C, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment. They received the equipment just prior to the Fourth of July holiday weekend, and Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Hicks, a senior drill sergeant with Charlie Company, said he was impressed with the capabilities.

“At any given point, I could monitor the trainees’ core stats,” he said. “I could look at their beats per minute, their current skin temperature and — the important one, obviously — would be core temperature. I think it’s an amazing capability. It’s not hard to use, and it gives you the ability to accurately gauge where your trainees are.”

Hicks said the company uses many heat-injury mitigation techniques already — including ice, electrolyte drinks, shade, rest and time indoors — but this system is unique because it can detect a potential problem even before the trainee feels the symptoms of a heat injury.

One example Hicks cited was a 10-mile ruck march his trainees performed. After they finished, Hicks said he had them sitting in the shade and periodically immersing their arms in ice water. He opened the app and found a couple of his trainees were color-coded red, meaning their core temperatures were too high.

“I went over to them and asked a couple questions about how they were feeling,” he said. “They said they were good, but with that device — even though they were good at the moment — I could see their temperatures were up, so I had them do more arm immersions, kept them in the shade a little bit longer.”

Meanwhile, Hicks said, the rest of the company was able to continue training, which is one of the system’s greatest strengths.

“It enables us to be able to conduct more training because we can see exactly where they’re at,” Hicks said. “Right now, with the heat, everything is a blanket solution — have the company do arm immersions, keep them in the shade, bring them inside — and we’ll still do those things to keep training going and prevent those heat injuries, but with this, we can continue to train while still treating those individuals who may need a little more attention. All it takes is pulling a phone out of your pocket, turning on your app and scrolling a few times.”

One of the Charlie Company trainees who wore the device was Pvt. Cedric Shields. Although he is originally from Miami, Florida, he said the Missouri heat is a little different.

“I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is,” he said. “I guess, being in Miami, we’re closer to bodies of water, so we get more wind. Here, the heat feels like it sticks to you. It’s not really tearing me apart, but I feel it, and I understand why a lot of trainees get heat injuries.”

Shields and the rest of the company’s trainees arrived here in early May — they graduate from Basic Combat Training tomorrow, actually — just in time to feel the difference between spring and summer temperatures in the Ozarks. He said, at first, he didn’t understand why the Army takes heat-injury prevention so seriously, but then he saw the heat affect some of his battle buddies. He said he sees a lot of positives in having technology like IHOTT to help prevent problems.

“It’s a little uncomfortable to wear sometimes — the device — it’s something to get used to, but it’s a lot better than the drill sergeants not knowing who might be in danger of suffering an injury,” he said. “To be preemptive like that, to be able to say to someone, ‘Hey, you need to dunk your arms in ice; you need to sit down; or you need to take in more liquids,’ instead of having to wait for that person to say they don’t feel good — they can fix the problem before it’s too late.”