Transporting the Injured in Challenging Environments
Fernando Carvalho, Paul Down, IDSA, and Ann-Marie Conrado, IDSA | University of Notre Dame
This paper describes the development of a unique load-bearing system providing hands-free carriage by distributing weight across the lower body, which constitutes the strongest structures of the human anatomy. The Hip Harness Carrying System enables users to utilize their arms and upper body for various tasks or additional support in a variety of applications including emergency rescue, agricultural harvesting, construction work, military transport, and diverse general carrying tasks.
The hip harness arose from a realization that the best emergency medical care is ineffective if geographic conditions block access. Within the compressed, disorganized architecture of numerous underserved urban settlements, such barriers are defined by a maze of confining alleys, open-air sewage drains, uneven terrain, and crowds of people in transit. Reality for the poorest often means that help never arrives.
A case can be made that introducing the proper tool would not only improve the reliability of health services delivered to slum dwellers, but will also facilitate other tasks that may benefit a much larger population. Due to the characteristics of the environment and the challenges they impose, designing equipment for rescue in slums will contribute to better rescue in other emergency scenarios, such as in natural disaster sites, vertical construction, and war zones – all of which can occur virtually anywhere on the planet.
During development of the Hip Harness Carrying System, a number of corelated applications expanded the use of the product, helping to justify its production far beyond its initial function. Mainstreaming technology designed for a particular context, allows the distribution of the hip harness across broad geographic, socioeconomic and cultural contexts. Identified applications include carrying outdoor equipment, such as canoes and gear; pulling/pushing rickshaws and carts; harvesting fruit; use in construction sites; and other manual labor tasks involving carriage.
The following sections of the paper present characteristics of urban slums, analysis of existing carrying methods, biomechanical data on human movement and carriage, and the features and applications of the final design solution. The Hip Harness Carrying System presents users with the advantage of hands-free carriage, and the ergonomic distribution of weight to diminish back overload and enhance the safety of the task, bringing benefits to both rescuers and victims.