Washington, March 2 : Four students from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, US, have created a swiftwater victim-transport harness for boat transport, which is an improvement on previous models.
Developed by Liz Varnerin, Kyle Schumaker, Brian Sandifer and Matt Zacherle, the new rescue harness called HydroSpine, provides proper spine immobilization, self-righting to face-up flotation, and protection from water hazards.
The invention began with a class assignment to develop a useful product. When the class discussed disaster solutions, the team began to look at products needed for flood rescue. This initial interest narrowed to water rescue, and finally to the needs of rescuers.
"After researching water rescue, we narrowed our focus to getting people in and out of the rescue boat," said Varnerin.
In swiftwater rescue, neck and back injuries are among the most difficult for rescuers. Victims must be immobilized to reduce the possibility of further injury, especially in cases where the water is rough.
However, current back-immobilizing rescue harnesses present complications and hazards. For example, existing harnesses, which were designed for use on land, do not float and become heavier when wet. eeping these complications in mind, the research team began to discuss a product specifically for back injuries.
Their goal was to have a harness that has sufficient flotation, floats in the proper position in the water, and self-rights unconscious victims so they will be face up. This required research with materials and placement of flotation foam. For instance, the team determined that foam has to be placed on the chest after numerous rounds of testing. hey also reduced the number of steps needed to secure the victim, making it easier and quicker for rescuers to use.
The first prototype was tested in the university's pool and the design was improved.
The second prototype incorporates handles for pulling and lifting, and holes along the side of the device to allow rescuers access to patient vital signs. There are also fewer buckles.
"We integrated four buckles into two handles, allowing simultaneous fastening," said Sandifer. "This reduces the amount of time it takes to secure a victim," he added.
Another attribute of the HydroSpine is that it does not contain metal, which makes it possible for a hospital to perform tests such as X-rays and MRIs without removing the patient from the harness.