I first posted this in January last year after the Haiti earthquake. With the fanning out around Christchurch today of specialist urban search-and-rescue crews, we might see some of these beauties being used to save human lives.
Our ‘machine of the day’ today has to be the amazing rescue air bag. An inflatable jack. So simple, yet such an effective way to rescue people trapped under wrecked cars or buried under tons of rubble.
Just like they are in Haiti (where the only good news today is that their tax office now lies in ruins).
Inflatable jacks are especially effective when a building’s floors have “pancaked”—i.e., when the columns have collapsed in a quake letting the floors fall, sickeningly, in sequence, one on top of another. With people trapped in between.
Just like that pile of rubble on the right that used to be a six-storey building.
But you’re no less trapped under the collapsed two-storey below.
Instead of using your regular hydraulic or scissors jack to lift the rubble (with their point-loads creating problems and their inherent instability) or the agony of carefully (and slowly) hacking through layers of rubble with pick and hammer, these inflatable babies can be slid underneath and inside the layers and easily inflated: safely spreading the load as they lift so they don’t disturb the debris any father or set up dangerous new load paths to endanger other folk who are trapped.
You can lift gently and simply, with the lift always controlled and stable—even during aftershocks. The bag is always its own “safety mat.”
Brilliant! The mind’s ingenuity applied to the rescue of human life.
I hope there are truck loads of ‘em on their way to
Haiti Christchurch right now.
NB: I can’t finds any clips showing the inflatable jacks in use in earthquake rescues. I guess everybody’s always too busy. But here’s a few clips showing ‘the power of the bag’ for lifting vehicles. You’ll have to extrapolate.