As many of you know, we sometimes work on projects other than tents and sleeping pads. It keeps our creative juices flowing and gives us a breather from our normal design work – a great way to stimulate new ideas.
Oftentimes, we're approached to design a product that solves a certain problem. Last year, we were asked by some of our military colleagues to design a new litter bivy. This particular group was looking for something to cover a patient who is loaded into a Stokes Litter, and then airlifted via helicopter to the closest receiving facility.
The new litter bivy needed to protect the patient from rotor wash, allow care providers easy access to the patient for communication and taking vitals, be breathable, easy to use, adjustable, durable, and not claustrophobic. That's a lot of 'musts'.
After many hours of research, design, and prototyping, we created a litter bivy that we thought would rise to the challenge. But real world testing is where you find out if your product’s got what it takes. So, we asked the crew of Mountain Rescue Service in North Conway, NH, who operates primarily in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, if they'd be willing to test it out. Lucky for us, they said yes. And even luckier for us (although not for this person), they were recently able to put it to use.
Below are some pictures of the Litter Bivy in use during a rescue from Mount Washington’s Huntington Ravine. After an 8 hour carry out in near freezing conditions and rain, the team got the patient safely out of the mountains and to a nearby hospital. While they weren't able to get a helicopter assist for this one, they did provide us with some valuable feedback. And while the Litter Bivy far outmatched their old system of burrito-wrapping the patient in a tarp, a few suggestions were made, which we’ll be included in our next round of prototypes.
A big thanks to the MRS crew and Mike Pelchat for the photos. Stay safe out there.