Stair chair of the future

Short description of the design:
Caterpillar stretcher unit provides ergonomic and time saving transportation

How did this design improve life and for whom?:
80% of patients being moved to the hospital by ambulance are not acute cases. They are conscious and aware of what is happening. However carrying a stretcher downstairs, with a 100-kilo person is not a pleasant experience for a patient or the paramedics, furthermore the weight load makes it difficult for women to manage the job. The patients feel insecure, and often in panic react by grabbing the stair railing which can result in a fall for all three involved, especially as they are often carried downstairs in a backwards position. Because it takes two paramedics to carry out this task, they must make extra trips up and down to fetch equipment and patient’s belongings. With the Caterpillar Scoop it is possible for one paramedic to move a patient downstairs, and the reduced weight load allows women to work as paramedics on an equal basis as men. The second paramedic can carry the equipment. Thus the product improves the work lives of both the paramedics as well as the patients.
What is the decisive role of the designer/design team in the creation of the nominated design?:
This project started with the task of redesigning the ambulance interior. During the initial research it became clear that the stretcher and its placement in the ambulance were decisive factors. In studying the stretcher and observing its use by the paramedics, a number of weak points and paradoxes were discovered. These were problems that the users (ambulance workers) accepted as given work conditions, and the possibilities for improvement had not been identified or even considered before the designers analysed the work process and began suggesting alternative ways of doing the job. This design analysis brought the users into the problem identification process and was a significant factor in the problem solution.
How did the design aspect help provide coherent whole concerning form, function,
resources, user kindness, aesthetics etc.:
The user studies phase of the design process was a significant element in identifying the problem. What started out as a routine ambulance redesign, ended up with an analysis of the work processes involved in the use of the ambulance, and the most significant was the use of the stretcher in connection with the ambulance. The design aspect in this case was thus, the designer’s ability to perceive problems from a holistic point of view and see the product in the context it was being used, which in this case involved strong considerations to function and user friendliness. The new stretcher design resulted in a completely different approach to patient movement and thus became the most important problem to solve. By concentrating on improving the personal experience of using the product a new technical design evolved, which led to the final solution and improvements in other associated aspects of the entire patient transport situation.

The process used to create the design:
The project was developed with the Swedish Ambulance Academy in collaboration with the user group – the ambulance staff. Extensive research during the problem identification phase included user studies, interviews, competitive and analogous product research, technical research and prototype exercises. This user research identified a number of problems, which were evaluated. One of the greatest design opportunities involved improving patient transport to and from the ambulance. The current situation involves a number of heavy lifts and patient maneuvering. Especially moving down stairways and on difficult terrain, the situation involves heavy and even dangerous lifting for the ambulance staff – a factor that also creates a sense of insecurity for the patient. Therefore the problem was to evaluate the current situation seen from the staff and patient’s point of view and develop a better, safer work environment for the staff and a more comfortable and secure situation for the patient.
Functionallity and use of design:
The Caterpillar stretcher allows a safer, more effective work environment via the stair climbing capabilities due to the caterpillar track system, which brings the patient down stairs without heavy lifting and by one person. A viscose clutch controls descent and the lightweight construction, rear wheel steering and large wheels, greatly improve manoeuvrability. The unit also has a detachable “scoop” element eliminating an extra product and making the rescue situation faster and more effective.


Loving Annie said...
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Dan Gerard, MS, RN, EMT-P said...

wow! after i saw the new stair chairs from ferno and striker, i didn't think it could get better, but i guess i was wrong.

bravo to the swedes for co ming up with an innovative design.

Epijunky said...

My back hurts less just looking at it.

Devin said...

I was literally sitting in the back of the squad while cleaning it and staring at our Stryker stairchair and thinking to myself "You know, you could combine that with the stretcher and it would be GREAT!" Figures someone would think of it first.