A Commack High School student traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to present his science research project to officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
David Li, who will be a senior this fall, developed a wireless tracking system for home medical equipment during power outages. Li, 17, said it communicates through radio signals to notify nearby hospitals of patient status and location.
"During many public health emergencies, such as natural disasters, there are often power outages and also very little communication options," Li said Monday. "This poses a huge health risk for those who depend on at home medical equipment."
Li pursued the project after finding it on innocentive.com, a website that lists real world problems and seeks crowdsourced solutions. Li's idea was selected as third place out of 234 proposed solutions. He received $2,000 for the development.
Li had seen the potential risks for patients relying on home medical equipment during a power outage when he volunteered in a nursing home about a year after superstorm Sandy.
"It really corroborated the problem," he said.
On July 17, Li presented his technology to senior government officials, including Dr. Nicole Lurie, the assistant secretary of preparedness and response at HHS.
"My whole experience was great," Li said. "I don't know whether there will be any further development, but I was able to obtain several important contacts who I will keep in touch with to see if I can contribute any ideas to their next projects."
Nationwide, nearly 1.7 million people rely on electricity-dependent home medical equipment, including more than 5,300 in Suffolk County, according to HHS.