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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
RESCUE CAPSULE FOR FREE STANDING INSTALLATION INSIDE A BUILDING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2001/053632
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A rescue system to provide a refuge in an emergency, such as a natural disaster and in particular an earthquake, includes a rescue capsule (1) for free standing installation in, or very close to, a building. The refuge comprises an outer protective shell (10) strong enough to withstand the loads resulting from structural damage to the building following from the emergency. Also, an inner skin (11) provided with cushioning and safety restraints (28) to protect the occupants in the event of falling.

Inventors:
Mohé, Ramesh (138 Rickard Road Empire Bay, NSW 2257, AU)
Mohé, Veena (138 Rickard Road Empire Bay, NSW 2257, AU)
Application Number:
PCT/AU2001/000045
Publication Date:
July 26, 2001
Filing Date:
January 18, 2001
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Mohé, Ramesh (138 Rickard Road Empire Bay, NSW 2257, AU)
Mohé, Veena (138 Rickard Road Empire Bay, NSW 2257, AU)
International Classes:
E04H9/06; (IPC1-7): E04H9/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO1994003689A11994-02-17
Foreign References:
EP0232479A11987-08-19
JPH09154965A1997-06-17
FR2731033A11996-08-30
FR2619147A11989-10-06
US5575024A1996-11-19
US5930961A1999-08-03
JPH094272A1997-01-07
Other References:
DATABASE WPI Derwent World Patents Index; Class Q46, AN 1996-275971
DATABASE WPI Derwent World Patents Index; Class Q46, AN 2000-051310/04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mohe, Ramesh (138 Rickard Road Empire Bay, NSW 2257, AU)
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Claims:
CLAIMS:
1. A rescue capsule for free standing installation inside a building to provide a refuge in an emergency for one or more occupants, the capsule comprising : an outer protective shell strong enough to withstand the loads resulting from structural damage to the building resulting from the emergency ; and an inner skin provided with cushioning and safety restraints to protect the occupants in the event of the capsule falling as a result of the structural damage.
2. A rescue capsule according to claim 1. where the outer protective shell is constructed of hollow metal panels that are connected together and then filled with fireproof and heat insulating material.
3. A rescue capsule according to claim 2, where a set of panels including one having a door in it, are used to construct capsules of different sizes.
4. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, where the capsule has a roof profile shaped to provide unstable equilibrium should the capsule be brought to rest in an entirely "upside down"position, to cause the capsule to fall onto its side.
5. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, where the safety restraints include body restraints. safety belts, crash helmets, babv safety seats or inflatable air bags.
6. A rescue capsule according to claim 5, where the restraints are adjustable.
7. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, where the interior skin is shaped to provide horizontal support surfaces in the event of the capsule tumbling and coming to rest in a sloping attitude.
8. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, further comprising adjustable and reconfigurable shelving and supports, including seats, inside the capsule.
9. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, further comprising supplies of water. food and first aid materials.
10. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, further comprising a beacon, visual and audio alarms, radio and hand held tools.
11. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, further comprising hoist anchor sites on the outside of the capsule.
12. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, further comprising ventilation means.
13. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, further comprising refuse containment or jettisoning facilities.
14. A rescue capsule according to claim 2, where the panels are assembled to form the capsule in situ.
15. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, where the capsule is located in a building as it is being constructed.
16. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, where the capsule is located in a building that is not built to withstand earthquakes, and the area where the capsule is located is strengthened.
17. A rescue capsule according to claim 1, where the capsule is located in a platform adjacent a building that is not structurally strong enough to carry the assembled capsule.
Description:
Title Rescue Capsule for Free Standing Installation Inside a Building Technical Field This invention concerns a rescue system and in particular a rescue capsule. The capsule is envisaged for use in earthquakes, but could also be used in other disasters.

Background Art A typical earthquake scenario involves the following sequence of events, although there will be minor variations to allow for the type of earthquake, the location. intensity. time and other factors: First, there is the earthquake itself, which usually strikes with little warning.

Second, the first effects of the earthquake will often cause major structural damage to buildings within a comparatively short time-span.

Third, a protracted series of after-shocks may occur over a much longer time-span. These aftershocks will alternate with periods of calm long enough to continue with the rescue efforts as well as post-rescue help on the spot or at hospitals.

Rescue attempts typically begin after the second stage, at which time a considerable loss of life has already occurred. This is generally unavoidable due to the extremely short time within which the earthquake and damage happen. This is of the order of a few seconds and is totally inadequate for victims to get out of harms way. The rescue attempts for the survivors are further jeopardised by the series of after-shocks.

The chances of successful rescue are progressively diminished with the passage of time since the survivors are less able to take an active part in the rescue process. For instance, survivors may be injured and may weaken quickly. Or, they may enter a state of shock which hinders their ability even to communicate their location amid the debris.

Summary of the Invention The invention is a rescue capsule for free standing installation inside a building to provide a refuge in an emergency for one or more occupants, the capsule comprising : An outer protective shell strong enough to withstand the loads resulting from structural damage to the building due to the emergency.

And an inner skin provided with cushioning and safety restraints to protect the occupants in the event of the capsule falling as a result of the structural damage.

The outer shell of the capsule may be constructed of hollow metal panels that are connected together and then filled with fireproof and heat insulating material. For instance, the panels may have walls of steel sheeting and be filled with concrete, or preferably lightweight concrete. Other materials or composites such as steel alum alloy, or titanium could also be used.

A modular design is preferred, in which a set of panels including one having a door in it, are used to construct capsules of different sizes.

The panels may be transported to the installation site and assembled to form the capsules in situ. The panels may be welded together to form the walls of a capsule, and welded to a roof and floor. The insulation may then be introduced into the panels.

The capsules may be assembled in buildings as they are being constructed. In this case the building will be designed with access routes to the doors of the capsules to enable people to enter them quickly. Also, where the building is not built to withstand earthquakes, the area where the capsules are located may be strengthened so that it remains safe for a period of time to allow the occupants to enter the capsules.

Since the smallest capsule is envisaged to be large enough to accommodate two people, it may not be possible to retrofit the assembled

capsules into existing buildings. However, the panels are made small (and light) enough to be transported through doorways, and into existing buildings to be assembled in situ.

In buildings, which are not structurally strong enough to carry the assembled capsules, it is possible to build capsule platforms adjacent to them.

Access to the capsules may be made through existing fire escape doors or windows, or via specially made doors. The platforms will generally be constructed with sufficient strength to hold up and serve as safe havens while the building occupants escape into the capsules.

The safety restraints included in the inner skin of the capsules may include body restraints, safety belts, crash helmets, baby safety seats and inflatable air bags. The restraints may be adjustable.

The interior skin may also be shaped to provide horizontal support surfaces in the event of the capsule tumbling and coming to rest in a sloping attitude. The capsules will generally be large enough to enable occupants to adopt a sitting posture when the capsule is on its side.

Adjustable and reconfigurable shelving and supports, including seats, may be brought to the horizontal regardless of the orientation of the capsule.

As a result they will help to accommodate the occupants after falling or 'tumbling'.

The capsules may have a roof profile shaped to provide unstable equilibrium should the capsule be brought to rest in an entirely"upside down"position, to cause the capsule to fall onto its side. For instance the roof may be domed or faceted with straight or curved sections so that the capsule cannot stand on it.

The capsule may be provided with supplies such as water, food. first aid materials, oxygen, fire extinguisher and the like. There may also be provided a refuse containment or jettisoning facility.

The capsules may also be provided with beacons, visual and audio alarms, two-way radios, batteries or small generators and hand held tools.

Lifting arrangements. such as hoist anchor sites may be positioned on the outside of the capsule. They may be positioned on all sides to be accessible whatever way the capsule is lying. The capsules may be retrieved by a crane after the disaster and loaded onto trucks for rapid transport to field hospitals. This will avoid the need to transfer the occupants to stretchers and ambulances in circumstances where this is not practical.

Battery powered ventilation may be provided in the capsules.

The rescue capsule initiates rescue at the first sign of an emergency, for instance from the very instant that the potential victims become aware of an earthquake happening. That instant would of course be pushed back further in time with early-warning systems.

To shorten the response time to reach the capsule, capsules may be positioned near the main exit areas of a building such as in corridors, fire stairs, foyers, lift wells and may even be located in common toilets, gymnasiums, dining rooms etc. Sufficient capsules for the building population may be positioned both at work areas and sleep areas so they are easily accessible at any time of the day or night. This would enable occupants to access these areas and have sufficient time to enter a capsule before total building collapse.

The rescue capsules are intended to keep a high proportion of the potential victims in a sufficiently adequate physical and mental condition to not only attempt to rescue themselves but also to clearly indicate their location to rescuers. By so doing, the interval between the structural damage and the rescue itself is dramatically shortened.

Brief Description of the Drawings Capsules exemplifying the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Fig. 1 is a plan section of a large capsule showing people inside.

Fig. 2 is a cross-section of the capsule in Fig. 1, again showing the people inside.

Fig. 3 is a plan section of an intermediate sized capsule, smaller than the capsule in Figs. 1 and 2.

Fig. 4 is a plan section of a small capsule, smaller than that of Fig. 3.

Fig. 5 is a cross-section of a capsule showing a person using a folding seat inside the capsule.

Fig. 6 is a plan view of a series of capsules configured together.

Fig. 7 is an elevation of a capsule platform adjacent a building and populated with capsules.

Best Modes of the Invention The capsules are designed to be placed in, or very close to, buildings where they are available for people to enter quickly at the first warning of an impending disaster, such as an earthquake. Once inside the occupants close the capsule, strap themselves in, and wait for the'all clear'or rescue. When the earthquake strikes. the capsule may have parts of the buildings fall onto it, or it may fall with part of the building, a'tumble'. After the shock of the earthquake the capsule will come to rest in the rubble. Should aftershocks occur the capsule may be buried by further rubble or may fall or settle further.

Ideally there is room for a minimum of two persons per capsule to ensure at least one is capable of either helping both or being in a position to actively pursue rescue efforts from inside. Even a single person living alone may still need to allow for visitors to take refuge with them in the capsule.

In most cases the occupants would enter the capsule and remain standing or sit, squat or lie. There should be room so that the occupants can adjust their posture after a'tumble'. So the smallest capsule is at least 900mm across to allow the occupants to sit up if the capsule ends up on its side.

The drawings show three capsules for use in earthquake disasters. A large capsule 1 is shown in Figs. 1 and 2, an intermediate size capsule 2 is shown in Fig. 3, and a small capsule 3 is shown in Fig. 4.

All these capsules have a number of common characteristics.

An outer protective shell 10 strong enough to withstand the loads resulting from the structural damage to the particular type of building resulting from the disaster. This may include falling with the building if it falls, and the number of floors likely to collapse on it from above. The capsules should not be crushed, deformed, or penetrated by sharp objects. Of course, should the capsules fall a great distance or have very heavy buildings collapse on top of them then they may fail.

Fireproof insulation is provided to reduce heat, say from spot fires, which would otherwise make environment inside the capsule untenable.

An inner skin 11 is provided with cushioning and safety restraints 28 to protect the occupants in the event of the capsule falling as a result of the structural damage. These will include body restraints, safety belts, crash helmets, baby safety seats and inflatable air bags. Should the capsule fall, it may tumble as it falls and the occupants are to be protected against injuring themselves against the interior of the capsule while it is tumbling. The occupants'hands would be free of restraints for support during such'tumble'' stages.

The interior is also shaped to provide support for all the occupants in the event of the capsule tumbling and coming to rest at a sloping angle.

Shelves 25 are provided to allow children to be'stacked'and take up less space. Moreover aftershocks may produce a series of"tumble"stages alternating with"at rest"stages causing postural changes to the occupants.

The interior surface of the capsule may have many angled facets 22 to provide horizontally inclined useable floor whichever position the capsule happens to have moved to after a"tumble"stage, as shown in Fig. 5.

The outer shell of the capsules is constructed of hollow steel panels that are welded together and then filled with concrete. In the drawings three wall panels of different sizes 12.13 and 14 and a common door panel 15 are used in different configurations to make the three capsules of different sizes.

The smaller panels 13 and 14 are essentially rectangular, whereas the largest panel 12 has a fin extending 16 vertically into the interior of the capsule to

provide greater stiffness to the capsule. The panels are welded to roofs 17 and floors 18 as appropriate. The lightweight concrete 19 is then introduced into the panels. The particular constructional details will vary depending on factors such as the nature of the disaster, accessibility and economic feasibilty.

All capsules roofs 17 have a facetted roof profile to prevent them being brought to rest in an entirely"upside down"position. An escape hatch 20 is provided in the roof Storage space is also provided within the capsule for all the basic needs of a short-term stay. So the capsule will be provided with supplies such as water, food, first aid materials, oxygen, fire extinguisher and the like. There must also be provided a refuse containment or jettisoning facility.

Ventilation is provided in the capsules. Natural ventilation will be adequate for most capsules, and will have louvres or staggered openings to discourage dust from coming in. Battery operated ventilation fans may be used to circulate the air in the capsule. Fans may also be used to create a positive pressure in the capsule to keep out contaminants, and if necessary, a pressurisation system and artificial atmosphere may be provided.

The capsules are also provided with all the available and affordable aids for an efficient and quick rescue. These will include beacons. visual and audio alarms. two-way radios, batteries or small generators, hand held pavement breakers, basic tools, and so on.

Lifting arrangements, such as hoist anchor sites 21 are positioned on all sides of the capsule to enable rescue cranes to lift the capsule directly with all the occupants inside. The capsules should not be so heavy that ordinary cranes cannot lift them.

The interior of the capsule should also provide for re-adjustment of the restraints 28 at any point during the rescue effort, to allow revised postures and positions of roof, walls and floor.

Adjustable and reconfigurable shelving and supports, including seats 23. may be brought to the horizontal regardless of the orientation of the

capsule. As a result they will help to accommodate the occupants after tumbling'.

The capsules may be located in houses or apartments. In this case a single capsule capable of holding the entire family is desirable. It should be located so that there is the minimum distance to travel to the capsule in the event of an emergency. For instance, if the disaster is most likely to occur at night, the capsule should be close to the sleeping quarters. If the disaster is equally likely during the day or night, there may be a capsule on each floor of the house.

A series of capsules may be located around offices, schools and other public buildings. For instance, for static workers near their workstations, and for transitory worker near corridors, toilets, etc. The capsules may be arranged in blocks together and around structural supports of the building, such as pillars 24 as shown in Fig. 6.

The capsules may be assembled in buildings as they are being constructed. In this case the building will be designed with access routes to the doors of the capsules to enable people to enter them quickly. Also, where the building is not built to withstand earthquakes, the area where the capsules are located may be strengthened with additional structural supports so that it remains safe for a period of time to allow the occupants to enter the capsules.

The capsules may also be retrofitted into buildings. For this purpose the panels are made small (and light) enough to be transported through doorways, and into existing buildings to be assembled in situ.

In buildings 28 that are not structurally strong enough to carry the assembled capsules, it is possible to build capsule platforms 26 adjacent to them. as shown in Fig. 7. Access to the capsules may be made through existing fire escape doors or windows, or via specially made doors. The platforms will generally be constructed with sufficient strength to hold up while the building occupants escape into the capsules. They will also

provide circulation space 27 around the capsules to enable people to collect in a relatively safe place and fill the capsules in an orderly manner.

Appendices a. The early warning system could be improved by channelling the early warning signal directly to the ultimate consumers. This could be done through the existing telephone cable network by causing a visual/audio alarm. This could increase the time available to reach the nearest capsule. b. The experience of hurtling in a capsule in the"TUMBLE"stage could be quite traumatising particularly for the more vulnerable occupants such as children, elderly people etc. Some educational awareness campaign similar to fire drills could be helpful.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.