North America's largest and most internationally attended EMS conference and trade show, EMS World Expo, was conducted last year from October 16th, 2017 to October 20th, 2017 in Las Vegas. The expo displayed state-of-the-art technologies, products and services from 360+ exhibitors and 150+ education sessions about innovations in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) sector.
EMS World gives free entry to students. One such student team from the Masters in Biomedical Innovation and Development Program from Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University visited the Expo with the goal to find problems and develop cost-efficient solutions. Dr. Lekshmi Kumar, Medical Director of Emory EMS, mentored this student team of physicians and engineers. During the Expo, the students interviewed and networked with participants and visitors, and learned about the EMS space, the day-to-day challenges that providers face, the unmet needs and the current solutions. They also enrolled in several workshops, trialed the latest devices and solutions and went back to their university with a fresh set of ideas and solid industry connections.
After the expo, the students interviewed several providers from AMR and Sandy Springs Fire Station, went on ride-alongs in ambulances from MetroAtlanta Ambulance Services and even connected with paramedics from Air Methods EMS. They documented their experience and formulated a list of unmet clinical needs. Using the connections they built over time, the team joined many EMS facebook groups and sent out surveys to providers. They were overwhelmed by the responses and the support they received. Based on feasibility, time span to innovate, risk and impact of the problems, they shortlisted the problem of inadvertent high-pressure manual ventilation via Bag Valve Mask (BVM).
The next steps focused on enlisting functional requirements, brainstorming, conceptualizing, and developing many low fidelity prototypes. During the early concept stage itself, the team filed for a provisional patent and started working on a proof of concept. They ensured that their design was cost-efficient, user-friendly, durable, and lightweight. They manufactured several low-cost prototypes using 3D printing technology and did bench tests in partnership with ExCEL Labs at Emory School of Medicine. Their prototypes delivered better results than the predicate device, a BVM with a built-in pressure control unit, at a significantly lower cost.
Currently, the students are looking to partner with BVM companies. They want to see their solution in the market helping millions of patients and providers.