Project Spotlight: Improving the Effectiveness of Combat Wounded Warfighters

When military equipment breaks, CTMA responds by developing tools and technologies to return assets to the fight with increased efficiency and effectiveness. CTMA is exploring improvements to return our most precious assets, our people, once they have been injured on the battlefield. Moving injured people safely and effectively is not a unique issue to the military. However, urban emergency responders with high-tech gurneys do not fit the needs of remote emergency responders, such as the military, who have low-tech litters. Low-tech litters have the same basic construct with some improvements in attachment points or straps for multiple-vehicle transport. However, there is little to nothing in place to alleviate injuries caused by vibration or shock loads induced during transport of the victim. It is a rigid cage, one-size-fits-all solution.

CTMA’s project team consisting of Portable Factory, Archimedes Analytical, U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM), U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), and NCMS, is looking at multi-modal forces and vibration on the body to develop a modular vibration mitigation system that will establish a barrier to absorb vibrational force between the injured body and the litter. The outcome will provide multi-directional support comprising three sections of stabilization to include the head/neck, torso/arms, and pelvis/leg areas and prevent body shifts during transport.

The design criteria is focused on the following principal factors: vibration mitigation and energy dampening transfer to the occupant, multiple protection levels, a wide range of occupant accommodations, comfort, durability/strength, lightweight, ease-of-use, and integration within existing rescue platforms.

The new and innovative concept design will bring a superior approach to commercial technology usage, with broader operational utility as well as improved and simplified means for in-vehicle integration with the following advantages:

  • Design performance for a large spectrum of occupant accommodations including equipment if necessary.
  • Enhanced developmental flexibility for mechanisms, active restraints, soft trim components, and overall shape and size.
  • Independent design and calibration of the system to accurately match multiple vibration frequencies.
  • Greater in-vehicle fastening flexibility to include floor, suspended side wall, or ceiling fastening methodology.
  • Intuitive coupling system via a quick self-locking mechanism allowing one-hand operation for the locking and unlocking release.
  • Additive manufacturing of functional components enabling lightweight, tunable shock-absorbing elements and on-site manufacturing of replacement parts.

Specialty emergency response teams like rapid water and/or mountain rescue units, urban high-speed ambulances, and other vehicle platforms will benefit from this project as the civilian litter (rescue basket) mirrors the contemporary military version. This project will use the U.S. military as a surrogate to public industry and medical facilities for research and development to improve litter design. These efforts will help provide an increased statistical rate of survival for those recovered from traumatic accidents in either remote locations or unique circumstances that are outside the normal urban response team’s operating limits.