Title:
Rescue harness
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rescue harness includes an inflatable bladder. Optionally, an inflatable bladder, gas canister and an opening mechanism are held in a container. In one example, at least the inflatable bladder is retained near a predetermined portion of the harness assembly in an inflated condition. The predetermined portion of the harness assembly is remote from the container. In another example, at least the inflatable bladder is movably coupled along a guide portion of the harness assembly in an inflated condition. In still another example, the inflatable bladder substantially envelops a gas canister and an opening mechanism in a storage position.



Inventors:
Weinel, John (Lakeville, MN, US)
Waclo, Thomas (Olympic Valley, CA, US)
Paden, Will (Olympic Valley, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/284433
Publication Date:
05/24/2007
Filing Date:
11/21/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63C9/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AVILA, STEPHEN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHWEGMAN, LUNDBERG, WOESSNER & KLUTH, P.A. (P.O. BOX 2938, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: a bundle including an inflatable bladder in a storage position; a harness assembly including a first strap and at least the inflatable bladder is movably coupled with the first strap; and wherein the inflatable bladder is sized and shaped to move along the first strap.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the inflatable bladder has a substantially ring shaped geometry.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the inflatable bladder includes handles.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the bundle includes a rip cord.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the inflatable bladder includes a first tether movably coupled with the first strap.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the harness assembly includes a second strap extending substantially perpendicular to the first strap.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the bundle is coupled at least with the second strap.

8. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the inflatable bladder includes a second tether coupled with the second strap.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the inflatable bladder is slidably coupled along the first strap.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the inflatable bladder is adapted to move between the bundle and a predetermined position remote from the bundle.

11. An apparatus comprising: an inflatable bladder; at least one gas canister coupled with the inflatable bladder; an opening mechanism coupled with the at least one gas canister, and the opening mechanism includes a trigger, wherein the inflatable bladder substantially envelops the at least one gas canister and the opening mechanism in a storage position; and a harness assembly, and at least the inflatable bladder is movably coupled along a guide portion of the harness assembly.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the inflatable bladder is adapted to move along the guide portion toward a predetermined position.

13. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the guide portion includes a first strap extending away from the inflatable bladder in the storage position.

14. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the inflatable bladder includes a first tether movably coupled along the guide portion.

15. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein the harness assembly includes a second strap, and the inflatable bladder includes a second tether coupled with the second strap.

16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the second tether is longer than the first tether.

17. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the harness assembly is sized and shaped to extend around a waist and a shoulder of a user.

18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the guide portion is sized and shaped to extend from the waist toward the shoulder of the user.

19. An apparatus comprising: a container sized and shaped to hold: an inflatable bladder in a storage position, a gas canister coupled with the inflatable bladder, an opening mechanism coupled to the gas canister, and the opening mechanism includes a trigger; and a harness assembly coupled with the container, and at least the inflatable bladder is retained near a predetermined portion of the harness assembly in an inflated condition, wherein the predetermined portion of the harness assembly is remote from the container.

20. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the container includes a pouch.

21. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the container is sized and shaped to split apart when the inflatable bladder is inflated.

22. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the predetermined portion of the harness assembly includes a portion of a first strap.

23. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the inflatable bladder is movably coupled along the harness assembly with a first tether.

24. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein the inflatable bladder is coupled to the harness assembly with a second tether.

25. The apparatus of claim 24, wherein the second tether is sized to retain the inflatable bladder in the inflated condition near the predetermined portion of the harness assembly.

26. An apparatus comprising: an inflatable bladder; a harness assembly; and a deployment system coupled between the inflatable bladder and the harness assembly, wherein the inflatable bladder, in a deployed condition, is adapted to orient a user face up in a material slide.

27. The apparatus of claim 26, wherein the inflatable bladder, in the deployed condition, is adapted to orient a head of the user uphill in a material slide.

28. The apparatus of claim 26, wherein the inflatable bladder, in the deployed condition, is positioned near a face of the user in a material slide.

29. The apparatus of claim 26, wherein the inflatable bladder, in an undeployed condition, is positioned near a waist of the user, and the inflatable bladder, in the deployed condition, is positioned substantially near a predetermined location away from the waist of the user.

30. A method comprising: coupling an opening mechanism with an inflatable bladder, and the opening mechanism is coupled with a gas canister; and movably coupling at least the inflatable bladder along a harness assembly, wherein the inflatable bladder is sized and shaped to move along a predetermined path.

31. The method of claim 30 further comprising substantially enveloping at least the opening mechanism and the gas canister with the inflatable bladder in a storage potion.

32. The method of claim 30 further comprising housing at least portions of the opening mechanism, the gas canister and the inflatable bladder in a storage position in a container.

33. The method of claim 30, wherein movably coupling at least the inflatable bladder includes slidably coupling the inflatable bladder along the predetermined path.

34. The method of claim 30, wherein movably coupling at least the inflatable bladder includes coupling a first tether between the inflatable bladder and the predetermined path, and the first tether is movable along the predetermined path.

35. The method of claim 34 further comprising coupling a second tether between the inflatable bladder and the harness assembly.

36. A method comprising: inflating an inflatable bladder; moving the inflatable bladder along a predetermined path, the predetermined path extending along a harness assembly; constraining movement of the inflatable bladder to substantially along the predetermined path; and positioning the inflatable bladder near a predetermined location along the predetermined path.

37. The method of claim 36, wherein positioning the inflatable bladder near the predetermined location includes positioning the inflatable bladder near a head of a user.

38. The method of claim 36, wherein positioning the inflatable bladder near the predetermined location includes positioning a hole extending through the inflatable bladder near a mouth of a user.

39. The method of claim 36, further comprising orienting a user face up in a material slide when the inflatable bladder is in a deployed condition.

40. The method of claim 36, further comprising orienting a head of a user uphill when the inflatable bladder is in a deployed condition.

41. The method of claim 36, wherein inflating an inflatable bladder includes splitting a container surrounding at least a portion of the inflatable bladder in an undeployed condition.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

Emergency recovery devices and in particular emergency recovery devices usable in materials slides such as landslides and avalanches.

BACKGROUND

Many of the current personal recovery and rescue devices are not compact and portable. For instance, the devices are often cumbersome assemblies carried on the back. The back mounted recovery device includes a large inflatable bladder and a gas canister coupled to the bladder. The size of these back mounted devices precludes using a backpack to store equipment including camping gear, survival gear, food, water and the like. In some examples, skiers, hikers, snowmobilers, rescue personnel and the like use a backpack (e.g., for storage and the like) instead of using a back mounted recovery device. Further, in some examples, the back mounted devices are heavy and limit the amount of equipment the user may comfortably carry in pockets and coats. In still other examples, it is the policy of ferrying services (e.g., helicopter ferries) that transport back country skiers and hikers to remote locations to not allow the use of a cumbersome backpack or back mounted recovery device that can decrease the mobility of the user in an avalanche situation. In yet other examples, ski patrol officers are precluded from wearing back mounted recovery devices because they carry avalanche triggering explosives on their backs.

In operation, the gas canisters of the back mounted device are opened by the user and inflate the bladder on the back of the user. In some examples, the bladder remains directly coupled to the back of the user after inflation. If used during a material slide (e.g., avalanche, landslide, mudslide and the like) because the bladder is lighter than the user, the bladder can turn the user upside down so his face points toward the ground, thereby making breathing and self extrication more difficult. Additionally, the inflated bladder may point the face of the user downward into the material of the slide (e.g., ice, rocks, snow and the like) while it is moving, and may result in additional injury to the user.

In other examples, an inflatable bladder is retained along the hip with a gas canister coupled to the bladder. In one example, when inflated, the bladder remains coupled to the hip (i.e., with a tether), and the bladder can roll the user on to his side thereby pointing the face of the user into the material of the slide. Additionally, while moving in the material slide, because the inflated bladder is coupled at the hip (i.e., at the center of gravity of the user) the body of the user can rotate and the user's head may point downstream of the slide. The inflatable bladder thereby may not protect the head from injury caused by stationary trees, rocks and the like lying in the path of the material slide.

What is needed is rescue harness that overcomes the shortcomings of previous devices. What is further needed is a rescue device that is compact and portable, and provides an increased chance of survival and decreases the severity of injuries in a material slide such as an avalanche or landslide.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of one example of a rescue harness.

FIG. 2 is a rear view of one example of the bundle coupled with one example of a harness assembly.

FIG. 3 is a front view of one example of the rescue harness positioned on a user.

FIG. 4 is a rear view of another example of the rescue harness positioned over the user.

FIG. 5 is a front view of one example of the inflatable bladder in an inflated condition.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of one example of the portable bundle taken along line 6-6 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a detailed perspective view of one example of the rescue harness including a splittable container.

FIG. 8 is a detailed front view showing one example of a first tether and a second tether extending between the harness assembly and the inflatable bladder.

FIG. 9 is a front view showing one example of the inflatable bladder in an inflated condition and positioned along the first strap.

FIG. 10 is a block diagram showing one example of a method for making a rescue harness.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. Therefore, the following detailed description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present invention is defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

One example of a rescue harness is shown in FIG. 1 as rescue harness 100. The rescue harness 100 includes a harness assembly having, in another example, a first strap 102 and a second strap 104 that cooperate to position the rescue harness on a user, for instance around the waist and over a shoulder. Optionally, the harness assembly includes a vest, webbing and the like sized and shaped to position the rescue harness on the user. As shown in FIG. 1, in yet another example, the second strap 104 crosses the first strap 102 (e.g., the second strap is perpendicular to the first strap). The first and second straps 102, 104 are adjustable, in yet another example, to facilitate fitting the rescue harness 100 around a variety of users having different body types, weights, sizes and the like. The rescue harness 100 further includes a bundle 106 that houses at least an inflatable bladder, a gas canister and an opening mechanism coupled thereto in a storage position. As shown in FIG. 1, a portion of the opening mechanism including a manual trigger, such as a rip cord 108 extends outside of the bundle 106. Optionally, the bundle 106 is coupled to at least one of the first strap 102 and the second strap 104.

In another example, the harness assembly including the first strap 102 and the second strap 104 includes quick connect features 110 to facilitate rapid positioning and removal of the rescue harness 100 on the user. For instance, the rescue harness 100 quick connect features include, but are not limited to, buckles, snap-fitting buckles, hook and loop fasteners, laces (e.g., for knotting and/or tying) and the like.

Referring now to FIG. 2, in one example a rear face 200 of the bundle 106 is shown coupled with the second strap 104. The bundle 106 includes, in another option, hoops 202 sized and shaped to pass the second strap 104 therethrough and couple the bundle 106 along the second strap 104. As shown in FIG. 2, the bundle 106 is optionally movably coupled along the second strap 104, for instance the bundle 106 is slidable along the second strap 104 to aid in comfortably positioning the bundle 106 on the waist of a user. In yet another example, the first strap 102 is coupled with the second strap 104 between the hoops 202. The hoops 202 of the bundle 106 retain the first strap 102 therebetween to ensure the first strap 102 extends away from the bundle 106 irrespective of where the bundle 106 is positioned along the second strap 104. In still another example, the first strap 102 is movably coupled with the second strap 104 with a hoop 204 extending around the second strap 104. Optionally, the bundle 106 and the first strap 104 are affixed to the bundle 106, for instance with adhesives, welds, fasteners, stitching and the like.

FIG. 3 shows the rescue harness 100 positioned around a user 300 in one example configuration. The rescue harness 100 is shown with the first strap 102 extending over one shoulder 302 of the user 300. In another example, the first strap 102 extends around the back of the user toward the front and couples with the second strap 104. Positioning the first strap 102 to extend over the chest of the user ensures the inflatable bladder is positioned at a predetermined location when inflated, as further described below. Additionally, extending the first strap 102 around the back of the user toward the front ensures the first strap 102 is retained over the shoulder 302, for instance, during skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, climbing, rescue operations, during a material slide and the like. The first strap 102 is coupled with the second strap 104 near the front of the user, optionally, and thereby loops the opposing shoulder 304 and the neck 306 therebetween to hold the first strap 102 in place (See FIG. 4). In yet another example, the first strap 102 extends from the second strap 104 over the shoulder 302, loops around the neck 306 and extends over the opposing shoulder 304 back toward the second strap 104 where it is coupled with the second strap 104. Other examples of the rescue harness 100 are sized and shaped to fit around the user 300, other users, objects and the like in different configurations. In still another example, the rescue harness 100 includes a vest, webbing and the like.

Referring again to FIG. 2, the first strap 102 is movably coupled between the hoops 202 of the portable bundle 106. As shown in FIG. 3, in one example, as the portable bundle 106 is positioned along the second strap 104, the first strap 102 is correspondingly moved with the bundle 106. For instance, the portable bundle 106 is positioned toward the quick-connect feature 110 (e.g., near the middle of the abdomen of the user 300), optionally. In another example, the portable bundle 106 is positioned toward the side (e.g., the hip) of the user 300. In yet another example, the portable bundle 106 is positioned on the torso of the user 300, for instance, along the chest, abdomen and the like. The portable bundle is thereby positionable along the rescue harness according to the needs of the user including, but not limited to, comfort. In each example, the first strap 102 is positioned with the bundle 106 and extends away from the bundle 106 (e.g., along the chest of the user) toward a predetermined location. In yet another example, the first strap 102 is independently positioned with respect to the bundle 106. The first strap 102, for instance, is coupled along the second strap 104 and adapted to extend over the shoulder 300 away from the portable bundle 106. The portable bundle 106 is movably coupled along the second strap 104 and positionable independently from the first strap 102. At least a portion of the first strap 102 extends over the shoulder 300 away from the portable bundle 106 coupled along the second strap 104.

FIG. 5 shows one example of an inflatable bladder 500 in an inflated condition. The inflatable bladder 500, is constructed with or includes, for example, a polymer suitable for use in water or snow and is substantially gas impermeable. In another example, the inflatable bladder includes polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride or the like. In yet another example, a suitable polymer is combined with fibrous polymers such as nylon or aramid fiber. As described above, the inflatable bladder 500, in one example, is stored in the portable bundle 106 (FIG. 1) and is inflated by pulling on a trigger, such as the rip cord 108. The rip cord 108 is coupled with at least one gas canister 502 that contains a compressed gas (e.g., carbon dioxide, air and the like). As shown in FIG. 5, the rip cord 108 is coupled with two gas canisters 502 with a bridge 504 extending therebetween. Pulling the rip cord 108 pulls the bridge 504, thereby pulling the opening mechanisms 506 coupled with the gas canisters 502. The opening mechanisms 506 include features such as needles, valves and the like adapted to open the gas canisters 502 when the rip cord 108 is pulled. The gas canisters 502 are coupled to respective opening mechanisms 506, for example, by screwing the canisters 502 into corresponding threaded receptacles of the opening mechanisms 506. In another example, the canisters 502 are coupled to the opening mechanisms 506 by welds, interference fits, and the like. The opening mechanisms 506 are coupled to the inflatable bladder 500 to facilitate the flow of gas from the gas canister 502 to the inflatable bladder 500.

As shown in FIG. 5, in one example, the gas canisters 502 are retained within a sleeve 508 and the sleeve 508 is coupled to the inflatable bladder 500. The sleeve 508 secures the gas canisters 502 against the inflatable bladder 500. The sleeve, in another example, is made with or includes the same material included in the inflatable bladder 500 (e.g., polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride and the like).

FIG. 6 shows one example of the portable bundle 106 in a cross-sectional view taken along the line 6-6 shown in FIG. 1. In one example, the portable bundle 106 includes a container 600, such as a pouch, casing and the like. Optionally, the container 600 is adapted to split along a seam 602, as further described below. In another example, the container 600 is a binding (e.g., strap, tie, clamp, cords and the like) extending around at least a portion of the inflatable bladder 500. In yet another example, the inflatable bladder 500 is sized and shaped to have a shape substantially corresponding to the dimensions of the container 600 when the inflatable bladder 500 is in a storage position. As shown in FIG. 6, the inflatable bladder 500 extends around at least a portion of the gas canisters 502 and the opening mechanisms 506 when the inflatable bladder 500 is folded into a storage position in the portable bundle 106. At least the gas canisters 502 and the opening mechanisms 506 are enveloped within the pliable inflatable bladder 500 and substantially protected from damage caused by, for instance, dropping of the portable bundle 106, impacts and the like. The inflatable bladder 500 serves to protect the gas canisters 502 and the opening mechanisms 506 during transport of the rescue harness 100 (e.g., while hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, climbing, performing rescue operations and the like). Additionally, folding the inflatable bladder 500 over the gas canisters 502 and the opening mechanisms 506 substantially protects the portable bundle 106 from damage when stored, for example, within a vehicle trunk or bed of a truck.

FIG. 7 shows a detailed view of one example of the container 600 of the portable bundle 106 in an open configuration. The container 600 includes a pouch that is pliable, in one example. Optionally, the container 600 is constructed with, but not limited to, pliable materials, such as nylon, polyester and the like. The container 600 is sized and shaped to split along the seam 602 as the inflatable bladder 500 (FIG. 5) inflates within the container 600. As the inflatable bladder 500 expands, it splits the container 600 and continues to inflate to its full volume. In another example, fasteners 700, such as hook and loop material, ties, rivets or the like are coupled along the seam 602 between the sides 702, 704 of the container 600. The fasteners 700 couple the side 702 to the side 704. The fasteners 700 are sized and shaped to open and allow the container 600 to split under the tension force applied across the container 600 by inflation of the inflatable bladder 500.

Referring now to FIG. 8, a portion of one example of the rescue harness 100 is shown including the inflatable bladder 500, a portion of the container 600, the first strap 102 and the second strap 104. In one example, a first tether 800 extends away from the inflatable bladder 500 and is coupled along the first strap 102. In another example, a second tether 802 extends away from the inflatable bladder 500 and is coupled adjacent to the container 600. Optionally, the second tether 802 is coupled along the second strap 104. The second tether 802 extends through a portion of the inflatable bladder 500, for instance through a hole 804 in the ring shaped bladder 500 and forms a loop to couple with the inflatable bladder 500. As shown in FIG. 8, the first tether 800 is coupled along the second tether 802, in yet another example. The first tether 800 is coupled with the inflatable bladder 500, in still another example.

As shown in FIG. 8, the first tether 800 is movably coupled along the first strap 102, in one example. The first tether 800 includes a feature, such as ring 806, slidably coupled along the first strap 102. In another example, the first tether 800 includes at least one of, for instance, a loop, runner and the like, sized and shaped to move along the first strap 102. The movable coupling of the first tether 800 along the first strap 102 movably couples the inflatable bladder 500 along the first strap 102 and guides the movement of the bladder 500 along the first strap 102. The first strap 102 and the first tether 800 cooperate to provide a predetermined path for movement of the inflatable bladder 500. In yet another example, the predetermined path of movement for the inflatable bladder 500 is along the first strap 102 toward a predetermined position. In still another example, a component of the movement of the inflatable bladder 500 along the predetermined path is controlled by the first strap 102, although the movement of the bladder 500 is not necessarily collinear with the first strap 102. Optionally, the predetermined position of the inflatable bladder 500 and the predetermined path of movement of the bladder are controlled at least in part by the first strap 102.

Optionally, the rescue harness 100 includes a guide portion, such as a rail, track and the like, sized and shaped to extend away from the portable bundle 106. The guide portion is included on the first strap 102, in one example. In another example, the guide portion is included on a vest, webbing and the like. The inflatable bladder 500 is movably coupled along the guide portion. The guide portion provides the predetermined path for movement of the inflatable bladder 500 and facilitates movement of the inflatable bladder 500 toward a predetermined position.

As described above, in one example, the inflatable bladder 500 is coupled to the rescue harness with a first tether 800 and a second tether 802. As shown in FIG. 8, in another example, the first tether 800 has a shorter length than the second tether 802. The first tether 800 guides the movement of the inflatable bladder 500 along the first strap 102. Additionally, the first tether 800 constrains movement of the inflatable bladder 500 toward either side of the first strap 102. In another example, the first tether 800 ensures the inflatable bladder 500 remains near the first strap 102 while the inflatable bladder 500 is movable along the first strap 102. The second tether 802 having the longer length relative to the first tether 800 constrains longitudinal movement of the inflatable bladder 400 along the first strap 102. In yet another example, the second tether 802 ensures the inflatable bladder 500 is substantially prevented from moving past a predetermined location along the first strap 102.

FIG. 9 shows one example of the rescue harness 100 on the user 300. The first strap 102 is sized to extend over the shoulder 302 and around the back of the user toward the second strap 104 (FIGS. 3 and 9). As shown in FIG. 9, the inflatable bladder 500 is in an inflated configuration. In one example, the inflatable bladder 500 is movably coupled along the first strap 102 with the first tether 800. Because the first tether 800 is movably coupled with the first strap 102 the inflatable bladder 500 is movable along the first strap 102 as shown by the arrows adjacent to the first strap 102. The inflatable bladder 500, in another example, is coupled with the second strap 104 with the second tether 802. Optionally, the second tether 802 couples the inflatable bladder 500 with the container 600. The container 600 holds the inflatable bladder 500 (in the uninflated condition), gas canisters 502 (FIG. 5) and the opening mechanisms 506. The container 600, in FIG. 9, is shown partially split apart by the inflation of the bladder 500.

The first tether 800 has a shorter length compared to the second tether 802. In one example, the first tether 800 ensures the inflatable bladder 500 is movably coupled along the first strap 102 and thereby able to move along the first strap 102. In another example, the second tether 802 ensures the inflatable bladder 500 is restrained from moving along the first strap 102 further than the length of the second tether 802. The second tether 802, in yet another example, is sized to allow the inflatable bladder 500 to move to a predetermined location along the first strap 102, for instance, near the head 900 of a user 300. In still another example, the second tether 802 is sized to allow the hole 804 of the bladder 500 to move to a predetermined location, such as adjacent to the mouth of the user 300. The second tether 802 thereby limits the longitudinal movement of the inflatable bladder 500 along the first strap 102 to a predetermined location, and the first tether 800 ensures the bladder 500 moves along the first strap 102 toward the predetermined location (e.g., near the head 900). The first strap 102 provides a predetermined path for the inflatable bladder 500 to move along with the first tether 800 (i.e., the first strap 102 guides the inflatable bladder 500). The second tether 802 provides a predetermined location along the first strap 102 that the inflatable bladder is retained (e.g., near the head 900 of the user 300 and remote from the container 600 positioned at the waist, abdomen, chest and the like). Optionally, the first tether 800 and second tether 802 are adjustable (e.g., with adjustable buckles, interchangeable tethers and the like) to ensure that upon inflation the inflatable bladder 500 is positioned near a predetermined location, such as the head 900 of the user 300.

In another example, the rescue harness 100 includes a guide portion, including but not limited to, the first strap 102, a rail, track and the like, sized and shaped to extend toward a predetermined location. The rescue harness 100 includes a vest, webbing and the like sized and shaped for the user 300, and the rescue harness 100 includes the guide portion extending thereon. The inflatable bladder 500 is movably coupled along the guide portion. For example, the inflatable bladder 500 includes a follower such as a slider, roller, and the like that is movably coupled on the guide portion and adapted to move along the guide portion.

In yet another example, the first tether 802 of the rescue harness 100 is coupled between the inflatable bladder 500 and a predetermined portion of the rescue harness 100. The first tether 802 extends between the predetermined portion of the rescue harness 100 and the container 600, where the inflatable bladder 500 is stored prior to inflation. For example, the first tether 802 is fixedly coupled with a portion of the rescue harness 100 positioned away from the portable bundle 106 (FIG. 1). As the inflatable bladder 500 inflates to its full volume the first tether 802 is sized to retain the inflatable bladder 500 near the predetermined portion of the rescue harness 100. The inflatable bladder 500 is thereby positioned at a desired location, for instance, near the face 900 of the user 300. Optionally, the hole 804 is positioned near the mouth of the user 300.

In operation, the user 300 dons the rescue harness 100 as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. The portable bundle 106 including the inflatable bladder 500, the gas canister 502 and the opening mechanism 506 is positioned as desired along the second strap 104. In one example, the user 300 operates the rescue harness 100 by actuating the trigger, for instance, the rip cord 108 (FIG. 1). In another example, the user 300 operates the rescue harness 100 prior to a material slide, such as an avalanche, mudslide, rock slide and the like. In still another example, the user 300 operates the rescue harness 100 after entering a material slide. Referring now to FIG. 5, pulling the rip cord 108 actuates the opening mechanism 506 thereby opening the gas canister 502. As described above, the rescue harness 100, optionally includes multiple opening mechanisms 506 and gas canisters 502. The gas canister 502 empties a gas into the inflatable bladder 500. The inflatable bladder 500 expands and, in yet another example, splits the container 600 as shown in FIG. 7. Optionally, the inflatable bladder 500 splits apart the container 600 including cords, clamps, ties and the like extending around the bladder 500.

As the inflatable bladder 500 expands, its volume increases and it becomes buoyant within the material slide (i.e., the bladder 500 is lighter than snow, rock, mud and the like found in material slides). In one example, the buoyancy of the bladder 500 pushes the bladder 500 toward the upper surfaces of the material slide and thereby pulls the user 300 toward the upper surface as well. Because the bladder 500 moves the user 300 closer to the surface of the material slide, the user 300 has an increased chance of access to air and of extricating himself. Additionally, in another example, the inflatable bladder 500 has enhanced visibility, such as a bright color, to alert rescue personnel of the location of the user 300. The buoyant bladder 500 thereby provides at least visual notification of the approximate location of the user 300 in the material slide.

As the user 300 is pulled and pushed along by the material slide, the inertia of the inflatable bladder 500 moves the bladder 500 along a guide portion of the rescue harness, for instance, the first strap 102, a rail, a track and the like. Referring to FIG. 8, the first tether 800 ensures the moving inflatable bladder 500 remains near the first strap 102. The second tether 802 coupled, for instance, with the second strap 104, retains the inflatable bladder 500 at a predetermined location along the first strap 102. In another example, the inflatable bladder 500 is retained near the head 900 (FIG. 9) of the user 300. In still another example, the second tether 802 retains the hole 804 extending through the inflatable bladder 500 near the mouth of the user 300 to facilitate the passage of air to the user 300 through the material slide. As shown in FIG. 9, optionally, the inflatable bladder 500 includes handles 902. In one option, the user 300 grabs the handles 902 to hold the inflated bladder 500 close to the head 900 to provide some protection from injury during the material slide. Additionally, the user 300 holds the inflatable bladder 500 close to the mouth to assist in providing a passage for air between the upper surface of the material slide and the user 300. Further, as shown in FIG. 9, because the first and second tethers 800, 802 are sized to position the inflatable bladder 500 near the head 900 of the user 300 the visible bladder 500 (e.g., brightly colored bladder 500) establishes the location of the head 900 of the user 300 in the material slide, in yet another example.

In another example, as the material slide moves the user 300 the buoyant inflated bladder 500 provides at least some drag to the user through the first and second tethers 800, 802. Referring again to FIG. 9, in one example, the inflatable bladder 500 is coupled to the rescue harness 100 near the chest of the user 300 by the first tether 800. Optionally, the inflatable bladder 500 is coupled to the second strap 104 with the second tether 802, and the first and second tethers 800, 802 cooperate to ensure the bladder 500 is retained at a predetermined location (e.g., away from the center of gravity of the user 300 adjacent to the waist). The relatively short length of the first tether 802 extending between inflatable bladder 500 and the chest of the user 300 allows the drag from the inflatable bladder 500 to rotate the user 300 within the material slide so the head 900 is pointing in the upstream direction of the material slide (e.g., uphill). In another example, the drag from the inflatable bladder 500 is transmitted along the first tether 800 to the first strap 102 thereby turning the head 900 of the user around the center of gravity near the waist of the user 300. The head 900 thereby points upstream and is turned away from downstream obstacles such as trees, rocks, ravines, cliffs and the like. Additionally, because the inflatable bladder 500 is coupled with the rescue harness 100 on the front of the user 300, for instance by the first tether 800 coupled with the first strap 102 near the chest, the body of the user 300 is turned to face upward by the buoyancy of the inflated bladder 500 in the material slide. The user 300 is thereby positioned near the surface of the material slide and facing upward to assist in extraction from the slide (by the user or others) and breathing through the hole 804 of the inflatable bladder 500. Additionally, the inflatable bladder 500 assists in keeping ice and snow away from the head 900 of the user 300. Melting of the snow and ice from the user's breath, and subsequent refreezing into a shell around the head 900 (i.e., “ice mask”) is thereby prevented and facilitates the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide through the ice and snow.

As described above, in still another example, the rescue harness 100 includes the first tether 802 coupled along a predetermined portion of the harness (e.g., along the first strap 102). The first tether 802 is fixedly coupled with the rescue harness 100 and sized to position the inflatable bladder 500 near a predetermined location, such as the head 900 of the user 300. The rescue harness 100 with the first tether 802 fixedly coupled between the harness 100 and the inflatable bladder operates in a similar manner as the rescue harness 100 shown in FIG. 9, with the first tether 802 movably coupled along the first strap 102.

FIG. 10 shows one example of a method 1000 for making a rescue harness. One example of a rescue harness made with the method 1000 is shown in FIGS. 1-9, and is referenced below. At 1002, an opening mechanism 506 coupled with a gas canister 502 is coupled with an inflatable bladder 500. At 1004, at least the inflatable bladder 500 is movably coupled along a harness assembly (e.g., the first strap 102), wherein the inflatable bladder 500 is sized and shaped to move along a predetermined path in an inflated condition. In one example, at least the inflatable bladder 500 is slidably coupled along the predetermined path, for instance with a ring 806. In another example, movably coupling at least the inflatable bladder 500 includes coupling a first tether 800 between the inflatable bladder 500 and the predetermined path, and the first tether 800 is movable along the predetermined path. Optionally, the method 1000 further includes coupling a second tether 802 between the inflatable bladder 500 and the harness assembly (e.g., the second strap 104, container 600 and the like).

Several options for the method 1000 follow. In one example, the method 1000 includes substantially enveloping at least the opening mechanism 506 and the gas canister 502 with the inflatable bladder 500 in a storage potion. In another example, at least portions of the opening mechanism 502, the gas canister 506 and the inflatable bladder 500 are housed in a storage position in a container 600 (e.g., a pouch, ties, cords, clamps and the like). The method 1000 further includes, in yet another example, inflating the inflatable bladder 500 and splitting the container 600. In another option, the method 1000 includes inflating the inflatable bladder 500, moving the inflatable bladder 500 along the predetermined path (e.g., because of drag during a material slide) and positioning the inflatable bladder 500 near a predetermined location (e.g., near the head 900 of the user 300) along the predetermined path.

The above described examples of rescue harnesses are compact devices that fit comfortably on a user and allow full use of backpacks and other storage devices on the back of the user. The harness assembly including, for example, straps, a vest, webbing and the like is sized and shaped to position a portable bundle away from the back of the user. In one example, the portable bundle including the inflatable bladder, gas canister and opening mechanism is positioned near the waist, abdomen, chest and the like of the user. The portable bundle is thereby positioned in a location that does not interfere with the activity of the user (e.g., skiing, climbing, hiking, snowmobiling, rescue operations and the like). Additionally, the user may still wear a backpack or other back mounted device. Further, the rescue harness is sized and shaped to remain on the user during a variety of activities, such as, skiing, hiking, rescue operations and the like, thereby ensuring the harness is properly positioned for use during a material slide (e.g., avalanche, rock slide, mud slide and the like).

In another example, the rescue harness is sized and shaped to position the inflatable bladder at a predetermined location in an inflated condition, for instance, near the head of the user. The inflatable bladder thereby provides protection to the head. Positioning the inflatable bladder near the head of the user marks the location of the user and more specifically marks the location of the head of the user. Because the inflatable bladder is buoyant with respect to the slide material, the inflatable bladder should move to the upper surface of the material slide and be visible to rescuers. Optionally, the inflatable bladder has a ring geometry and the rescue harness is sized and shaped to position the hole of the inflatable bladder near the mouth of the user to facilitate breathing during a material slide. Further, during the material slide, the user may grasp the inflated bladder and pull it close to his head to provide some protection from the moving objects in the slide (e.g., rocks, snow, mud and the like). In one example, the inflatable bladder includes handles for the user to grasp.

In yet another example, when inflated, the inflatable bladder is positioned away from the center of gravity of the user, for instance, near the head and chest of the user. The inflated bladder provides some drag to the user through the first tether, for instance. The drag from the bladder rotates the user within the material slide so the head of the user is pointed upstream with respect to the direction of material movement in the slide (e.g., uphill). Because the inflated bladder is coupled to the rescue harness near the head and chest of the user, the drag rotates the user around the center of gravity near the waist of the user. The head is thereby turned away and protected from oncoming downstream obstacles such as trees, rocks, ravines, cliffs and the like. Additionally, because the inflated bladder is coupled on the front of the user, for instance through the first tether coupled with the rescue harness, the body of the user is turned to face upward by the buoyancy of the bladder in the material slide. The user is thereby positioned near the surface of the material slide and faces upward. This position and orientation assists in extracting the user from the slide (e.g., by himself or by others) and facilitates breathing through the hole in the inflatable bladder.

It is to be understood that the above description is intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. Many other embodiments will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reading and understanding the above description. It should be noted that embodiments discussed in different portions of the description or referred to in different drawings can be combined to form additional embodiments of the present application. The scope of the invention should, therefore, be determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.