When attempting to save a life, there is little tolerance for error. This is especially true when dealing with head, neck, or back injuries that require in-line stabilization. For lifeguards and other professional rescuers who operate in water, rescues that require a spineboard have an added level of complexity.
Spineboards are a common and crucial piece of a rescuers arsenal that are only used in high stress, time sensitive situations. When in a swimming pool or in open water however, spineboards become immediately unwieldly and unstable, creating the potential to cause further damage.
For a new design I decided to focus on the following core problems in existing products:
- poor hand holds and bio-mechanical disadvantage that make the board hard to control
- restraining straps that tangle or knot in the water
- improper victim placement on board that results in further injury
- multiple parts of head / neck restraint block that become separated during rescue and float away
Through documentation and first hand experiences, I focused on these major problems that affect both response time and the overall difficulty of performing a deep water rescue.
By compartmentalizing how to place a submerged board beneath a victim, I could begin to simplify the immobilization process. Ultimately, this could improve the survival rate for submerged victims.A board that is easier to control and use in deep water would improve both speed and accuracy while under stress.
After exploring possible solutions, I refined my ideas into a more refined concept, which was tested and iterated. A requirement of the design was to keep all standard rescue procedures the same. A rescuer does not need a to alter their techniques, the product itself simply makes those techniques more effective.
The proposed solution combined several ideas intended to streamline the deep water backboarding process. First, a unique counter-balancing grip design was implemented to allow the board to act as an extension of the forearm. This way, greater control can be achieved in the water.
In addition, the form language of the board itself indicates victim placement through shape coding for both upper and lower body injuries. Spooled restraining straps eliminate tangling, and automatically stay taught and locked in place through a mechanism derived from a car's seatbelt.
Finally, a one piece headblock unit prevents vital components from floating away, and makes head immobilization a faster, one handed process.