Four men that were trapped under 10 feet of bricks have been rescued in Nepal thanks to a new search and rescue technology developed in partnership with NASA.

The device, named FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response), employs microwave-radar technology to listen for heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage.

In the wake of the April 25th earthquake in Nepal, two prototype FINDER devices were deployed to help locate survivors in the hardest hit areas areas.

“The true test of any technology is how well it works in a real-life operational setting,” said DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers. “Of course, no one wants disasters to occur, but tools like this are designed to help when our worst nightmares do happen. I am proud that we were able to provide the tools to help rescue these four men.”

The four men had been trapped under the debris for days in the remote village of Chautara. A contingent of international search and rescue experts from China, the Netherlands, Belgium and members of the Nepali Army in Northern Nepal used FINDER to detect two heartbeats beneath each of two different collapsed structures. The rescuers dug into the structures and uncovered the trapped men and saving their lives.

“NASA technology plays many roles: driving exploration, protecting the lives of our astronauts and improving–even saving–the lives of people on Earth,” said Dr. David Miller, NASA’s chief technologist. “FINDER exemplifies how technology designed for space exploration has profound impacts to life on Earth.”

FINDER has previously been able of detect buried people under up to 30 feet of rubble, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete, and from a distant of 100 feet in open spaces. A new “locator” feature has now been added to show the approximate location of trapped individuals within about five feet, depending on the type of debris.

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