Sarah's cousin is an EMT, and has talked about the challenges that arise in transporting patients. In particular, it can be difficult to carry patients up and down stairs, and the jostling or dropping that occurs in the process leads to worsened injuries. One of our team members, Kaymie, has been personally carried on a stretcher downstairs, and knows from her first hand experience that transportation down a staircase can be a jarring and risky experience. We thus we decided to create Climber: a stretcher that would facilitate the transportation of patients up and down steps.
What it does
The key mechanism in Climber is the triangular three-wheel system that replaces the classic single round wheels found on rolling stretchers today. It allows the stretcher to be easily wheeled up and down steps. In addition, there is a sliding mechanism that enables the bed angle to be adjusted, enabling steep angles to be corrected during transportation up or down a staircase.
How we built it
We started with sketches and tested prototypes of our key ideas. From there, we refined our design, and ultimately built Climber by laser-cutting circles for our wheels and assembling the rest using machining tools.
Challenges we ran into
We didn't have most the materials we were planning to use, so we had to figure out alternatives along the way. We had also originally counted on laser cutting more parts, but the high demand for laser cutting led us to restrategize and figure out alternatives.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Although there are definite improvements that could be made, we're proud that our proof of concept demonstrates the advantage of the three-wheel system over single wheels.
What we learned
We learned the importance of refining a design and prototyping before jumping straight into building the final project. We built some simple prototypes of our rolling mechanisms to see how they performed climbing stairs, and these ended up helping us significantly in the optimization of our design.
What's next for Climber
We'd redesign the structure to be more solid and use more elegant parts. We're thinking of ways to keep the bed level even while the frame is at an angle. We're also looking into motor assist functions and active suspension.