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Published: 2020-01-30

Rescue pad aiming for the UN

NEWS From a regional collaboration project in northern Sweden, to global opportunities through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The rescue pad has an exciting year ahead.

Text: Åsa Burlin

Safety & Security Test Arena is entering its final stage. The project started in 2016 and has been coordinated by the European CBRNE Center. During the three years the project has resulted in several innovative products and solutions concerning problems related to largescale accidents and disasters.  One such product is the heated rescue pad developed by researchers Jonas Alex and Tom Uppstu, both from the Department of Nursing at Umeå University. Together they have established the company Heat & Rescue Sweden to produce and market the rescue pad.

- The initial idea behind the rescue pad dates back to 2011 and my doctoral project on hypothermia where we could show that patients are cold and the cold is coming from underneath. Because patients are transported laying down, we have created a product which isolates from the cold while at the same time providing heat to the ill and injured, says Jonas.

Hypothermia can be a serious problem in an emergency or disaster situation. A decrease in body temperature makes it significantly more difficult to rest, increases the energy requirements, lowers the body’s natural ability to fight infections, and makes the blood coagulate slower. This affects recovery and even survival.

As a part of the collaborative project Safety & Security Test Arena, Tom and Jonas have gradually developed the idea around the rescue pad with support from Uminova. The company was established in 2017 and the feedback on the rescue pad has been very positive. During the project’s final conference last autumn, a close to finished prototype was presented to the audience. A few adjustments to electrical plugs and control units still need to be made, then the pad will await CE marking before entering the market. The rescue pad is adapted for use in ambulances, helicopters, sea rescue boats, terrain rescue vehicles and emergency shelters.   

This past autumn Jonas and Tom received notice the rescue pad is one of twenty projects selected to participate in a larger project on collaborative and sustainable solutions for international crisis and disasters funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. It is a one-year project and the goal is to develop a shared understanding of what solutions and products are needed in the field and how they can be adjusted to crisis and disaster situations for an international market.

- For us it is an important way to connect with other companies and organisations, Jonas explains. Our goal here is public procurement by the United Nations and through this project we will learn more about that process as well as possible obstacles, so it really is a significant opportunity.