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Title:
INFLATABLE RESCUE DEVICE FOR SEARCH AND RESCUE IN WATER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/256936
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Described herein is a rescue device (1) for search and rescue of a person in water, where¬ in the rescue device (1) comprises a floating cylinder (2) comprising an inflatable floating ring (3) with an outer circumference and inner circumference, wherein the inner circum- fere nee delimits an area, and a cloth for fastening inside the floating ring (3), the cloth covering at least a portion of the area and forming a bottom (4) in the floating cylinder (2). The rescue device (1) comprises at least one pressurised container (5) with a trigger mechanism for inflating the floating ring (3) and at least one anchor strap (6) for attaching the person to the rescue device (1) so that the person is positioned in the water outside the outer circumference of the floating ring (3). The rescue device (1) makes it easier to search for and rescue persons from water both because it has a large, easily visible surface and because the casualties are attached to the rescue device (1) and can thereby be found even in the event that they die.

Inventors:
HALS NILS HENRIK AARØ (NO)
Application Number:
PCT/NO2021/050141
Publication Date:
December 23, 2021
Filing Date:
June 04, 2021
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
HALS NILS HENRIK AAROE (NO)
International Classes:
B63C9/08
Foreign References:
US0456621A1891-07-28
FR2097193A51972-03-03
CN109591977A2019-04-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HÅMSØ PATENTBYRÅ AS (NO)
Download PDF:
Claims:
P a t e n t c l a i m s

1. A rescue device (1) for search and rescue of a person in water, wherein the res cue device (1) comprises:

- a floating cylinder (2) comprising:

- an inflatable floating ring (3) with an outer circumference and an inner circumference, wherein the inner circumference delimits an area, and

- a cloth for fastening inside the floating ring (3), the cloth at least cover ing a portion of the area and forming a bottom (4) in the floating cylinder (2);

- at least one pressurised container (5) with a trigger mechanism for inflation of the floating ring (3); and

- at least one anchor strap (6) for attaching the person to the rescue device (1) so that the person is positioned in the water outside the outer circumference of the floating ring (3).

2. The rescue device (1) according to claim 1, wherein the cloth is perforated.

3. The rescue device (1) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the cloth comprises a top cloth and a bottom cloth for delimiting at least one ballast chamber.

4. The rescue device (1) according to claim 3, wherein the top cloth and/or bottom cloth is perforated.

5. The rescue device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the at least one anchor strap (6) comprises a plurality of anchor straps (6) distributed around the outer circumference of the floating ring (3).

6. The rescue device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the res cue device (1) further comprises at least one handle (8) for each anchor strap (6) so that the person attached to the respective anchor strap (6) can hold onto the handle (8).

7. The rescue device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the float ing ring (3) is divided into two or more chambers, and wherein the rescue device (1) is further provided with at least one pressurised container (5) for each cham ber.

8. The rescue device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the res cue device (1) further comprises an electronic localisation unit. 9. The rescue device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the res cue device (1) further comprises a reaching device (13) for raising the floating ring (3) up from the water to allow the wind to catch the bottom (4) so as to reach the rescue device (1) downwind.

10. The rescue device (1) according to claim 9, wherein the rescue device (1) is fur- ther provided with an extension to the at least one anchor strap (6).

11. The rescue device (1) according to claim 9 or 10, wherein the reaching device (13) comprises a rope belay (16).

12. The rescue device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the res cue device (1) is further provided with a jerk relief (9) to absorb forces from the at least one anchor strap (6).

13. A rescue system comprising the rescue device (1) according to any of the preced ing claims and a storage device for storing the rescue device (1) when the rescue device (1) is in an uninflated, inactive state.

14. The rescue system according to claim 13, further comprising a life jacket ar- ranged to be fastened to the at least one anchor strap (6) of the rescue device

(1).

15. A survival suit comprising the rescue device (1) according to any of claims 1-12.

Description:
INFLATABLE RESCUE DEVICE FOR SEARCH AND RESCUE IN WATER

The invention concerns a rescue device for search for and rescue of a person in water, where the rescue device comprises an inflatable floating ring. The invention also concerns a survival suit and a rescue system that comprises the rescue device. Background of the invention

A known challenge for rescue personnel that are searching for and retrieving one or more persons from a body of water is that it is difficult to spot the person(s), especially in heavy seas and when visibility is poor. For persons evacuating a vessel in water, whether it be a boat, an airplane or some other vessel, there are several challenges. Several of these chal- lenges are related to the human psyche, i.e. how calm a person manages to remain and how rationally they manage to think. If there are several persons in the water, it is also challenging for them to ensure they do not drift away from each other.

What is known from training facilities for breakdowns / evacuations from vessels at sea is to practice staying together as a group by floating on the back between each other's legs and at the same time holding onto each other's legs with your hands. In this way a

"snake" of humans can be formed, and it becomes easier to spot the evacuees from e.g. a rescue helicopter. One problem with this solution is that it only works in calm waters and over a limited time period. In turbulent seas, often with waves several metres high and strong winds, the evacuees will be pulled away from each other and spread across a vast area. This both makes it more difficult for the evacuees to survive and for the rescue per sonnel to find the evacuees.

The purpose of the invention is to remedy or reduce at least one of the disadvantages of prior art, or at least provide a useful alternative to prior art. The purpose is fulfilled by the features specified in the description below and the subse quent patent claims.

General description of the invention

The invention is defined by the independent patent claim. The dependent claims define advantageous embodiments of the invention.

In a first aspect, the invention concerns more specifically a rescue device for search and rescue of a person in water, wherein the rescue device comprises:

- a floating cylinder comprising an inflatable floating ring with an outer circumference and an inner circumference, wherein the inner circumference delimits an area, and a cloth for fastening inside the floating ring, the cloth at least covering a portion of said delimited area and forming a bottom in the floating cylinder;

- at least one pressurised container with a trigger mechanism for inflation of the floating ring; and

- at least one anchor strap for attaching the person to the rescue device so that the per son is positioned in the water outside the outer circumference of the floating ring.

The effect of the inflatable floating ring is that it provides a buoyancy that can contribute to pulling a person from a water depth, e.g. from a sinking or sunken vessel, and up to the water surface. One problem that arises when a person goes down with a vessel, is that when the person is not connected to additional breathing air, they will run out of air be- fore they reach the surface. It is difficult to orient oneself at depth, and this is further re inforced by fear/panic arising in the situation. By triggering the at least one pressurised container when exiting the vessel, the rescue device will rise towards the surface. This buoyancy comes in addition to the buoyancy from any life jacket the person might be wearing. The effect of the anchor strap is to be able to attach the person to the rescue device, so that the person does not have to hang on themselves. This creates a feeling of safety for the evacuee. Additionally, e.g. if the person faints or in a worst-case scenario dies, the body will still be easier to find and transport to shore. Further, the rescue device is ar ranged so that the anchor strap is outside the floating ring, so that the attached person is located in the water outside the rescue device. This is advantageous for several reasons. One reason is that there may, especially at low temperatures, be less of a chance of criti cal hypothermia if the person is in the water rather than on top of the rescue device, meaning exposed to ambient cold air/wind after having become wet. Another reason is that the rescue device and the person's life jacket combined makes up a larger unit that thus becomes more easily visible for rescue personnel or boats that are passing by, rather than just the rescue device on its own.

The rescue device consequently makes it easier to search for and rescue persons from water both because it has a large, easily visible surface and because the one or several casualties are attached to the rescue device and can thereby be found even in the event that they die.

The rescue device can be produced in several sizes and adapted to a desired buoyancy and area. An example may be an outer diameter of the floating ring of two metres, which corresponds to an area of 3,14 square metres. It must be understood that the rescue de vice can be of other dimensions, for example the outer diameter can be in the area of 1-4 metres. Most ideal is an outer diameter in the area of 1,5-2, 5 metres. Which diameter works the best will also depend on the chosen material. It is thereby possible to imagine the rescue device with both a smaller and a larger diameter than stated, for example down to 0,6 metres or up to 5 metres. When it comes to the relation between material choice and diameter, this must be adjusted so that the rescue device does not become so heavy or voluminous that it becomes unwieldy for a person who is carrying it with them. Roughly estimated, a maximum weight limit will be at 10 kg.

The floating ring and/or cloth of the rescue device can advantageously be provided with means for making the rescue device especially visible. For example, the entire or parts of the floating ring and/or cloth can be made of a material in a colour that creates a stark contrast to the background (the ocean), e.g. neon yellow or another bright colour. Fur ther, the entire or parts of the material that the floating ring and/or the cloth are made of, can be fluorescent and/or provided with reflective material. Even further, one can im agine that said reflective material is of a type that both is visible on radar and reflects light applied from an external light source. In addition, the rescue device can be provided with a light source. The light source can be arranged to send out Morse signals, in particu lar the signal for SOS. Alternatively or additionally, the rescue device can be provided with colourants in a bright contrast colour that can be released into the water and are suited for colouring large ocean areas. Such colourants are known to the skilled person and will not be described further herein. The rescue device can be arranged with one or more containers or bags for holding said colourants. Further, the rescue device can be equipped with at least one distress flare.

The cloth can advantageously be perforated to allow the rescue device to lie steadily on the water and not be blown off the water surface. Both winds as a consequence of weather conditions and rotor winds from a helicopter can be problematic. It is therefore important that there be some weight to the rescue device when in use, without it being too heavy to carry before use. This can be solved by using water to weigh down the bot tom. By perforating the cloth/bottom, some water is allowed to pass through and to lie on an upper side of the bottom cloth, at the same time as one avoids it filling up with large amounts of water and thereby becoming too heavy.

The cloth can comprise a top cloth and a bottom cloth for delimiting at least one ballast chamber in the bottom of the floating cylinder, to thereby make the rescue device even more stable in the water. Where the cloth comprises both a bottom cloth and a top cloth, one or both of these can be perforated. The purpose is to trap a limited amount of water between the bottom cloth and the top cloth, where the limited water amount works as ballast and keeps the rescue device stable in the water even if it is exposed to wind. It must be understood that the number, size and placement of perforations must be adapted to the size of the rescue device, among other things.

The at least one anchor strap can comprise a plurality of anchor straps distributed about the outer circumference of the floating ring. This makes it possible for several persons to attach themselves to the same rescue device and thereby stay together in a group. It is advantageous if one of the at least one anchor strap is arranged to be able to be fastened to a person even before the rescue device is inflated to prevent the person from being separated from the rescue device.

Relatively soon after a person has evacuated a sinking vessel, a strong urge to hold onto something with their hands arises. The person will often instinctively swim towards flot- sam. Flotsam often has sharp or pointed edges, often of a hard material, that can easily perforate the life jacket or injure the person. If the life jacket is perforated, it is likely that the person will drown quickly.

The rescue device can be provided with a reinforcement band that is attached to the bot tom to ensure stable and secure fastening of the handles. The floating ring can be divided into two or more chambers, and the rescue device can further be provided with one pressurised container for each chamber. The division of the floating ring into several chambers ensures that the rescue device can remain floating if one chamber is punctured. The at least one pressurised container for each chamber will have an apportioned capacity to inflate the floating ring to such an overpressure that the floating ring forms a relatively rigid construction.

The floating ring can further be provided with a pressure relief valve to ensure that the floating ring is not exposed to a critical overpressure.

The floating ring or each of the chambers of the floating ring can be provided with a mouthpiece, or a blow-up tube, for adjusting the air content in the floating ring. In an advantageous embodiment, the floating ring is provided with one blow-up tube for each anchor strap, so that all attached persons can contribute with air supply when necessary.

The rescue device can further comprise an electronic location unit arranged to be able to emit signals that can be intercepted by rescue teams to thereby ease their efforts to lo cate the evacuees. The rescue device can further comprise a reaching device that can comprise a reaching rope and a haul rope. The reaching device is for raising a portion of the floating ring up from the water so that the wind can catch the bottom, which will then function as a sail. In this way, the rescue device can be used to reach downwind. Reaching ropes can be attached to anchor straps along half the circumference of the floating ring, symmetrically about a centre line, possibly with one of the reaching ropes along the centre line. It is ad vantageous if the reaching ropes are gathered at one point, where said point is above the bottom of the rescue device and inside the inner circumference of the floating ring. The haul rope can be fastened to this collection of reaching ropes and allow the person at tached to the anchor strap at a diametrically opposite end of the centre line to raise the floating ring up from the water by pulling the haul rope. One could say that the person attached to said anchor strap is in pilot position. This will typically be the same anchor strap that is attached to the person before the rescue device is inflated, as described above.

The rescue device can be provided with a pocket, for example on the floating ring, for storing the reaching rope and the haul rope when they are not in use.

The rescue device can further be provided with an extension to the anchor strap. Said extension can be disposed in the anchor strap in the pilot position to allow the person to step on the floating ring and at the same time be able to stretch out to thereby more easi ly raise the floating ring into a reaching position.

The reaching device can further be provided with a rope belay of a per se known type.

The haul rope of the reaching device can be threaded through the rope belay so that the rope belay can lock and open up for the haul rope.

The rescue device can further be provided with a jerk relief arranged to absorb the forces that arise in the anchor straps when persons are attached to these. The jerk relief can typically be a rope, band, strap or similar, which preferably is fastened in a circular man ner about a centre of the floating cylinder of the rescue device. The jerk relief can in one embodiment be fastened in a through manner in the cloth of the floating cylinder. In em bodiments of the rescue device that have both a top cloth and a bottom cloth, the jerk relief can be fastened either in the top cloth only or in both the top and bottom cloth. The effect of the jerk relief is that movements/jerks caused by one person anchored to the rescue device are not transferred to another person who is also anchored to the same rescue device. Instead, the jerk relief is deformed, i.e. the circular strap is pulled out of its normal shape so that it can entirely or partially cancel out tensile forces directed in an opposite direction between persons anchored to the rescue device.

The rescue device can further be provided with a fastening device for fastening the rescue device in an uninflated state to a person. Such a fastening device can for example be a hook and loop for fastening around the person's thigh. It must be understood that the fastening device can also be arranged to fasten the rescue device in other places on the person's body, for example on their back.

Further, the rescue device can be provided with a belt that can be fastened around the person's waist, where the belt is provided with a fastening point for fastening to one of the anchor straps, preferably the one in the pilot position. The fastening point can for example be a D ring of per se known type. The anchor strap is preferably coupled to the fastening point on the belt, both when the rescue device is in an uninflated, inactive state and when it is in an inflated state. In an alternative embodiment, where the rescue device is used in conjunction with a life jacket, the rescue device can be connected to the belt on the life jacket instead of being provided with a belt of its own.

In a second aspect, the invention concerns a rescue system comprising the rescue device according to the first aspect and a storage device for storing the rescue device when the rescue device is in an uninflated, inactive state. Such a storage device can for example be a case, sheath, bag or even an item of clothing, for example a survival suit, into which the rescue device is integrated. In the case that the rescue device is disposed in connection to or integrated in a survival suit, the belt on the survival suit can be used to fasten the person to the anchor strap. This would be an alter native to the rescue device itself being provided with a belt or that the belt on the life jacket is used as described above.

The rescue system can further comprise a life jacket arranged for being fastened to the at least one anchor strap of the rescue device. In one embodiment, the rescue device can be integrated in the life jacket of the rescue system. In a third aspect, the invention concerns a survival suit comprising the rescue device ac cording to the first aspect of the invention.

Special description of the invention

In the following, an example is described of a preferred embodiment, which is illustrated in the attached drawings, wherein:

Fig. 1 shows a sketch in perspective of a rescue device;

Fig. 2 shows a side sketch of the rescue device of fig. 1;

Fig. 3 shows a plan sketch of the rescue device of fig. 1;

Fig. 4 shows a side sketch of the rescue device when it is raised up in a reaching position; and

Fig. 5 shows a plan sketch of the rescue device when it is raised up in a reaching position.

The figures must be regarded as principle drawings. In the description, position indicators refer to the positions shown on the figures. A reference number for an element that is specified generally, can also be used for a specific embodiment of the generally specified element. For illustrative reasons, the mutual aspect ratio between individual elements may be somewhat distorted.

Reference is first made to figure 1, which illustrates one embodiment of a rescue device 1 for search and rescue of at least one person in water. The rescue device 1 comprises a floating cylinder 2 that is shown herein comprising an inflatable floating ring 3 that has an outer circumference and an inner circumference, where the inner circumference delimits an area. The floating cylinder 2 further comprises a cloth for fastening inside the floating ring 3, the cloth covering at least a portion of the area and forming a bottom 4 in the floating cylinder 2. In the shown embodiment, the cloth covers the entire area. The rescue device 1 is shown herein with several pressurised containers 5 that have a trigger mechanism for inflation of the floating ring 3. Different embodiments of the res cue device 1 may be provided with a different number of pressurised containers 5, but must have at least one. The pressurised container 5 is for inflating the floating ring 3 when the trigger mechanism is activated. In embodiments where the floating ring 3 is divided into several chambers or sections, there is at least one pressurised container 5 for each chamber.

Further, the rescue device 1 is provided with at least one anchor strap 6 for attaching the person to the rescue device 1 so that the person is positioned in the water outside the outer circumference of the floating ring 3. The anchor strap 6 can be fastened to the per son's survival suit, life jacket or clothing by e.g. a carabine hook. The shown embodiment of the rescue device 1 has eight anchor straps 6 and thereby eight persons can be an chored to the rescue device 1. The anchor straps 6 are shown in pairs opposite each oth er. It must be understood that fewer or more anchor straps 6 are also possible, both odd and even numbers, and the anchor straps 6 can be symmetrically or asymmetrically dis posed in the circumference of the floating ring 3.

The cloth in the bottom 4 of the rescue device 1 can be provided with at least one hole 7. The cloth can thereby be perforated and there may be a different number of holes 7 in different embodiments of the rescue device 1. The cloth can be singular, or it can consist of a top cloth and a bottom cloth (not shown). In an embodiment with both a top cloth and bottom cloth, the one or both of the top cloth and the bottom cloth can be perforat ed. The top cloth and the bottom cloth can delimit at least one, not shown ballast cham ber. The ballast chamber can contain an amount of water that pushes in through the at least one hole 7 that forms the perforation. The one of the top cloth or the bottom cloth can be stretched out tighter than the other of the top cloth or the bottom cloth to form a chamber between the cloths.

The rescue device 1 is herein further shown with a handle 8 in close relation to each of the anchor straps 6. The handle 8 is so that the person attached to the associated anchor strap 6 has something to hold onto. The rescue device 1 is shown with a jerk relief 9, which herein is a circular strap fastened to each of the anchor straps 6 to avoid that any of the anchor straps 6 jerk directly to wards each other when persons are attached to the anchor straps 6. The jerk relief 9 can, as shown herein, be fastened to the bottom 4 of the rescue device 1. On the inside of the floating ring 3 a safety valve 10 for overpressure is shown, so that the pressure in the floating ring 3 does not become so high that the rescue device 1 is de stroyed. A mouthpiece, or blow-up tube 11, is disposed on the floating ring 3, so that air can be topped up if necessary. The blow-up tube 11 is provided with a check valve that is not shown. In a preferable embodiment, the floating ring 3 is provided with a plurality of blow-up tubes 11, for example one blow-up tube 11 near each of the anchor straps 6. A portion 12 of the floating ring 3 can be reinforced for the purpose of allowing a person fastened in this position, often called pilot position, to place their feet on the reinforced portion 12 of the floating ring 3 when reaching the rescue device 1. The reinforced por tion 12 can be formed in such a way that it both provides good foothold and ensures pro- tection of the floating ring 3 so that it does not puncture. The person fastened in pilot position is typically the person that was attached to the rescue device before it was in flated, i.e. the person that brought with them the rescue device on board the wrecked vessel.

In figure 2, the rescue device 1 is shown from the side, while figure 3 shows the rescue device 1 seen from above. In figure 3, some of the holes 7 are shown with dotted lines and some are shown with solid lines. The dotted lines indicate holes 7 in the bottom cloth, while the solid lines indicate holes 7 in the top cloth. The specified pattern should only be considered an illustration of the holes 7 in the bottom cloth and the top cloth being displaced in relation to each other, so that the water is better trapped in the ballast chamber between the cloths than if the holes in the top cloth and the bottom cloth are centred across from each other. In an alternative embodiment, one can imagine the holes 7 as an open area, through both bottom cloth and top cloth, along an inner edge of the floating ring 3, at one or more of the anchor straps 6.

The figures 4 and 5 show the rescue device 1 in a reaching position, where the rescue device is provided with a reaching device IB comprising reaching ropes 14 and a haul rope 15. The rescue device 1 can as shown be raised to an upright position so that the wind can catch it and push it along the water surface. It must be understood that even if it is shown on the figures that the rescue device 1 is vertically upright on the water sur- face, the point is that the rescue device 1 is raised enough over the water surface so that the wind can catch on it. In the shown embodiment, five of the anchor straps 6 are laid in towards the centre of the rescue device 1 and fastened to the reaching rope 14. The haul rope 15 is attached to the reaching rope 14 and is disposed so that the person in the pilot position can pull the haul rope 15 and place their feet on the reinforced portion 12 of the floating ring 3 and use their body weight to raise the rescue device 1 up in the water. The haul rope 15 can further be provided with a rope belay 16.

The holes 7 in the cloth or top cloth and/or bottom cloth of the bottom 4 are placed so that the ballast chamber or ballast chambers are emptied when the rescue device 1 is raised in the water. The holes 7 are not shown in figures 4 and 5. It is clear that since several of the anchor straps 6 are used in association with the reach ing rope 14, and the rescue device 1 is to be raised in the water, the number of people who can be evacuated in this fashion is limited. In the shown case, there are two free an chor straps 6 in addition to the anchor strap 6 in the pilot position, so that three persons can use the shown rescue device 1 for reaching. The anchor strap 6 in the pilot position can be provided with an extension 17 to make it easier for the person in the pilot position to apply their body weight to reach with the rescue device 1. The extension 17 is then fastened to the anchor strap 6 in the pilot posi tion, and it is the extension 17 that is attached to the person and allows the person to keep their hands free to hold the haul rope 15 and handle the rope belay 16 and brace their legs against the floating ring 3.

It should be noted that all embodiments mentioned above illustrate the invention, but do not delimit it, and experts on the area will be able to design many alternative embodi ments without deviating from the scope of the attached claims. In the claims, the refer ence numbers in parenthesis shall not be considered delimiting. The use of the verb "to comprise" and its different forms does not exclude the presence of elements or steps not mentioned in the claims. The indefinite articles "a" or "an" be fore an element do not exclude the presence of more such elements.