Women’s History Month, celebrated annually during March in the U.S., highlights the contributions of women to events in history and society. Today, we highlight five inventions by women that have had an impact in the fields of police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) that make all our lives safer.
1. In 1887, Anna Connelly patented the first fire escape bridge, allowing people who escaped to the rooftop to make their way to a neighboring building during a fire. Fire escapes are essential to residents’ and first responders’ rescue efforts in the event of a fire.
2. In 1969, Marie Van Brittan Brown, a nurse, was the first person to develop a patent for home closed-circuit television security. Her invention became the framework for the modern closed-circuit television system that is widely used for surveillance, crime prevention, and traffic monitoring.
3. Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and computer scientist, invented COBOL, the first user-friendly business computer software system in the 1940s. Thanks to Dr. Hopper, her program was later adapted by other computer scientists and modified for fire and EMS programs.
4. DuPont chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar in 1966 while she was trying to create a material to make stronger tires. She wove the material into a fiber, and the forerunner for firefighter gear and ballistic vests was born.
5. In WWII, to aid in the deployment of radio-controlled torpedoes, Hedy Lamarr made significant contributions to the field of frequency hopping in radio technology. This development paved the way for everything from Wi-Fi to GPS.
[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]