ParAid Transport+

New baby stretcher could prevent deaths in ambulances

Image credit: Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University researchers are in the process of developing a new device to ensure that newborn babies are protected in ambulance crashes of up to 40mph.

According to the UK Neonatal Transport Group, there are approximately 16,000 transfers of ill and premature babies every year in the UK. Many of these transfers are carried out so that the babies can receive care in the correct type of neonatal unit.

The researchers, aiming to develop a device that would improve the survival rate of babies in motor accidents, collaborated with Evac+Chair, manufacturers of a popular stairway evacuation chair, and an ambulance child restraint for the safe transport of young children.

Dr Panch Suntharalingam, an expert in product design, led the team to develop the first ever stretcher interface design (SID) for neonates. The SID is securely attached to a standard loading stretcher before entering the ambulance, and isolates the baby from sudden accelerations and decelerations to reduce the trauma of road transport.

The baby is contained safely within an incubator, which is secured with a quick attach and release mechanism. In the event of a traffic accident, the device will be capable of rapidly disengaging from oxygen, power and other survival supplies so that the baby can be transferred rapidly to another ambulance.

“The major challenge in this project will be the development of a stretcher interface device with impact-resistant fixing points and ports for oxygen, power and other survival supplies situated around what encapsulates the newborn,” said Dr Suntharalingam.

“Our work is vital in guaranteeing the safety of newborn patients in ambulances and giving their families peace of mind – something that will be at the forefront of all our minds throughout the project.”

The product – the ParAid Transporter – will undergo crash safety tests at 40mph, in a similar test design to those carried out by the European New Car Assessment Programme.

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