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Winner Spotlight: ResQDevices Aims to Alleviate Lifting Injuries with ParaCart

Paramedics are among the most injured professions, and the majority of injuries come from lifting patients.

ResQDevices Founder Roger Price aims to change that. After working as a paramedic for 17 years, Price was fed up with seeing all of his friends’ lives ruined by injuries. So, he invented ParaCart, a stretcher that eliminates heavy lifting for paramedics and converts to a chair in order to transport patients down stairs.

Price’s first prototype of ParaCart arrived at ATP Innovations the day of the Challenge Cup competition, and it helped him earn the winning title in the health category. Price aims to have the device fully functional by the time he pitches at Challenge Festival in May.

After the competition, we sat down with Price to talk about the inspiration for ResQDevices and what other products the startup will offer.

You pitched ParaCart to the judges at Challenge Cup, but that’s not your only product. What else does your company offer?

ResQDevices has two products. One is the Line Saver, which is a device for IV cannulas to prevent them from being ripped out and to allow for easy detection of infection. The other is the ParaCart, which is a stretcher that will go down stairs.

You have a very personal connection to the problem you’re solving. Tell me about your experience as a paramedic and how you saw this as a pain point in the industry.

I’ve seen a lot of colleagues get injured. A good mate of mine, his back is so wrecked that he’ll never work as a paramedic again. In addition, it ruins their lives. They can’t pick up their kids; they can’t kick a ball around and play. At one station next to mine, five of them were off work with lifting-related injuries—so as you can see it’s an epidemic. So I thought I’d do something about it.

How long have you been working on ParaCart?

Long story is that I won a spot on a program about this time last year with a different product that I’ve since abandoned after doing more market research. This idea for a no-lift solution had been in the back of my mind for a while, and I figured, now’s a good a time as any. We’ve gone through hundreds of ideas about how we might do this, lots of prototypes and experiments, before we got to what we have now. I love gadgets.

You showed off the very first prototype of ParaCart at Challenge Cup. How did you come up with this design?

Late nights and a white board, I think! We went through an industrial design firm and they threw out a bunch of different “maybe” ways to do things, and I took that in my brain and cobbled together a mix. If you look at old WWI photos of field medics then, they used something very similar. This, obviously, is a lot more effective than that, but everything old is new again.

Your company isn’t like a lot of tech startups that are doing software products. This is hardware. How do you plan to manufacture this at scale?

I’ve got a great team, and what we’d love to do is make the first ones ourselves—we’ve got the expertise to do that—and then once we scale up we’ll get the parts made in Asia but assemble it here [in Sydney]. That’s the high value-add activity. We can keep an eye on quality, do tweaks, change the colors if the customer wants.

And exactly who are the customers? What’s the sales process like?

It’s tricky because the established players are very strong. They’ve been making stretchers for decades. The way in is to go in through specialist departments within ambulance services, like the rescue guys. They may only buy one or two, but the word of mouth will spread it. I know those guys in Sydney myself.

There are 15,000 ambulance services in the U.S. and a lot of them only have one or two ambulances, and those sorts of guys are open to innovation. It’s just a matter of finding those early adopters.

What inspired you to work on the IV cannulas device? Is that a particular problem for paramedics? That problem is much more of an issue in hospitals. This came from a friend of mine whose friend had a facial tumor removed when he was about 18 months old and he got stabbed [for an IV] 13 times more often than he needed to. Kids have so much fat under their skin that it’s hard to tell where the vein is, and the cannula stopped working.

You’re based at ATP Innovations. What has your experience been?

It’s a building full of really smart people. I did a program and it was reasonably structured: You had to pitch every week and develop business plans, and for people who have no business background like myself, they’d walk you through marketing strategies. Having the people available to ask dumb questions, to go out for coffee and ask, “Is this a good idea?”—having that network of mentors is very valuable.

What can we expect from ResQ devices between now and Challenge Festival?

It’ll be a fully working prototype—it’ll do the lifting, it will do the reconfiguring, load in and out of an ambulance. We’ll have gotten the integration of control a lot better, gotten rid of all the pinch points. We can expect a lot.

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Melissa Steffan

Melissa is the former assistant editor for 1776, where she worked on the media team to create compelling, idea-driven content and reporting. A Seattle native, she graduated from Seattle Pacific…