Title:
Portable Infrared Heating Field Tent
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Systems for providing a transportable human heating system include a portable infrared (IR) field tent configured to provide IR heat therapy to a patient in the field. The tent includes a free-standing enclosure having a support structure providing sides and a base. The base defines an open bottom of the enclosure. A flexible surface supported by the support structure forms at least one side wall of the enclosure. At least one side wall of the enclosure includes an openable panel that provides access through the side wall into an interior of the enclosure. The tent includes an IR heating panel secured to an inner surface of the enclosure for heating a patient within the enclosure. A human heating system can optionally include a patient support apparatus, such as a stretcher. An IR field tent can be configured to attach to the apparatus, thus enclosing a patient upon the apparatus.



Inventors:
Benda, Steven J. (Cokato, MN, US)
Benda, Chad Mathew (Cokato, MN, US)
Loukus, Robert E. (Calumet, MI, US)
Application Number:
14/150545
Publication Date:
07/10/2014
Filing Date:
01/08/2014
Assignee:
BENDA STEVEN J.
BENDA CHAD MATHEW
LOUKUS ROBERT E.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H15/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HAWK, NOAH CHANDLER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PDSD LAW (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
1. A portable infrared (IR) heating field tent, comprising: a free-standing enclosure comprising a support structure providing sides and a base of the enclosure, the base defining an open bottom of the enclosure, and a flexible surface supported by the support structure forming at least one side wall of the enclosure, the at least one side wall comprising an openable panel providing access through the side wall into an interior of the enclosure; and at least one IR heating panel secured to an inner surface of the enclosure.

2. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 1, further comprising a power supply system for providing electrical power to the at least one IR heating panel.

3. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 2, wherein the power supply system comprises a portable battery pack system and a DC to AC converter.

4. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 2, wherein the power supply system comprises an alternating current power source.

5. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 2, wherein the power supply system comprises a connector configured to removably connect to an alternating current power source supplied by an external field vehicle.

6. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 1, wherein the at least one IR heating panel is configured to generate low levels of electromagnetic radiation and wherein the tent is configured to reduce radiation emitted from the tent and to reduce radiation emitted into the tent.

7. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 6, further comprising ultraviolet lighting for reducing bacteria in the air within the tent.

8. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 1, wherein the tent is configured to reduce electric field emissions from the at least one IR heating panel generating electric fields.

9. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 1, further comprising at least one attachment member disposed on the free-standing enclosure for attaching the enclosure to a bottom surface.

10. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 9, wherein the at least one attachment members is disposed on the support structure.

11. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 1, wherein the enclosure comprises a plurality of sides, and at least one IR heating panel secured proximate to each one of the plurality of sides.

12. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 1, wherein the flexible surface comprises a non-flammable, water resistive material.

13. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 1, wherein the enclosure can be folded into a smaller package for transport without removing the IR heating panels from the interior of the enclosure.

14. The portable IR heating field tent of claim claim 13, further comprising a rapid deployment mechanism for causing the tent to rapidly transition from a folded transport state to a deployed state.

15. A transportable human heating system comprising: a free-standing enclosure comprising: a support structure providing sides and a base of the enclosure, the base defining an open bottom of the enclosure, and a flexible surface supported by the support structure; at least one infrared (IR) heating panel secured to an inner surface of the enclosure; a patient support apparatus; at least one attachment mechanism disposed on a lower edge of the free-standing enclosure for attaching the enclosure to the patient support apparatus; and a power supply system for providing electrical power to the at least one IR heating panel.

16. The transportable human heating system of claim claim 15, wherein the patient support apparatus comprises a gurney or a stretcher.

17. The transportable human heating system of claim claim 15, wherein the power supply system comprises a field vehicle.

18. A method for providing heat to a patient in the field comprising: providing a transportable human heating system, the system comprising: a support structure providing sides and a base and supporting a flexible surface, the base of the support structure defining an open bottom; and at least one infrared (IR) heating panel secured to an inner surface of the tent; disposing the transportable human heating system over the patient, enclosing the patient therein; and supplying electrical power to the at least one IR heating panel to direct IR energy from the at least one IR heating panel toward the patient.

19. The method of claim claim 18, wherein the tent comprises at least one attachment mechanism disposed on its lower surface, and the method further comprises attaching the tent to a patient support mechanism.

20. The method of claim claim 19, further comprising transporting the patient on the patient support mechanism while supplying electrical power to the at least one IR heating panel.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/848,687, filed Jan. 8, 2013, the content of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

In certain situations where service men and/or service women (service members) or other patients are injured and are in the field awaiting medical attention and transport, hypothermia can set in contributing to pre-mature death. In these situations, there is a need to rapidly deploy an easily transportable human heating system. However, the unknown nature of the service member's injuries limits the methods that can be employed to heat the patient, as in some situations it is preferable to provide heat without direct contact to the patient's body.

Further, in addition to providing heat to a patient, it can be necessary to access the patient in the field to provide immediate medical care. After any field care is administered, the patient may require transport from the field to receive additional care. During transport, the patient may require continued heat therapy. However, due to the technical nature of certain field extraction means, such as aircraft extraction, electric field emissions from the heating system can cause electrical signal interference with equipment within the extraction means.

SUMMARY

This disclosure describes systems and methods related to providing heat to a patient's body in the field. Some embodiments described herein provide a transportable human heating system comprising an enclosure, such as a tent, for enclosing a patient and supporting heating panels about the patient. In some embodiments an enclosure has a support structure defining an open bottom and a flexible surface defining at least one sidewall. The open bottom of the enclosure allows it to be placed directly over a patient in the field. Embodiments of the enclosure include at least one infrared (IR) heating panel secured to the inner surface of a sidewall. A power supply system can provide electrical power to the at least one IR heating panel, causing it to direct IR radiation toward the patient, thereby heating the patient without contacting him or her. The power supply system can include a controller for appropriately directing electrical power to the at least one IR heating panel. In various embodiments, the power supply system can receive electrical power from an alternating current (AC) power source such as an AC source on a field vehicle or a direct current (DC) power source such as a battery pack. In addition, the power supply system can include a converter for converting DC electricity to AC electricity for using with the at least one IR heating panel. The power supply system may in some cases incorporate the power source or may be configured to electrically connect to a separate power source.

The enclosure can include an openable panel in at least one sidewall for permitting access to a patient inside the enclosure. An openable panel allows a medical attendant to treat a patient within the enclosure while providing heat therapy to the patient via IR radiation. The enclosure can comprise attachment members for attaching the enclosure to a patient support structure to facilitate transportation of the patient while maintaining the enclosure over the patient and applying heat therapy to the patient.

The flexible surface defining the sidewall of the enclosure can include a shielding layer such as a metallic fabric to prevent electric fields from passing through the sidewall. The shielding layer may, for example, prevent undesirable electric fields emitted from the IR heating panels from interfering with electronic instrumentation during patient transport. IR heating panels may also be configured to reduce electromagnetic radiation emanating therefrom. The shielding layer can also shield the patient within the enclosure from electric fields outside of the enclosure.

During operation, an attendant can place the enclosure of the human heating system directly over the patient and apply electrical power to the at least one IR heating panel to direct IR radiation toward the patient, thereby heating the patient. A medical attendant can treat the patient in the enclosure via the openable panel, secure the enclosure to a patient support apparatus, and transport the patient while warming the patient via IR radiation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following drawings illustrate some particular embodiments of the present invention and therefore do not limit the scope of the invention. The drawings are not to scale (unless so stated) and are intended for use in conjunction with the explanations in the following detailed description. Some embodiments will hereinafter be described in conjunction with the appended drawings, wherein like numerals denote like elements.

FIGS. 1A-1D are views of an exemplary field tent according to some embodiments.

FIG. 1E is a cross-section of an exemplary field tent according to some embodiments.

FIGS. 2A and 2B are exploded assembly views of an exemplary transportable human heating system according to some embodiments.

FIG. 2C is a perspective view of the transportable human heating system of FIGS. 2A and 2B.

FIGS. 3A-3B are perspective views of alternate embodiments of a transportable human heating system.

FIG. 4 is a process flow diagram illustrating exemplary operation of a transportable human heating system according to some embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following detailed description is exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration of the invention in any way. Rather, the following description provides some practical illustrations for implementing some embodiments of the present invention. Examples of constructions, materials, dimensions, and manufacturing processes are provided for selected elements, and all other elements employ that which is known to those of ordinary skill in the field of the invention. Those skilled in the art will recognize that many of the noted examples have a variety of suitable alternatives.

Certain embodiments of the present invention provide a field tent for providing heat to a patient in the field. FIGS. 1A-1D are views of an exemplary field tent 100 according to some embodiments. FIGS. 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D illustrate a perspective view, a front view, a back view and a bottom view of the field tent 100, respectively. As shown in FIGS. 1A-1D, the field tent 100 comprises a portable free-standing enclosure 102 such that the enclosure is self-supporting. The enclosure 102 can include a support structure 104 providing sides and a base of the enclosure and a flexible surface 106 supported by the support structure 104 and defining at least one sidewall 108 of the enclosure 102. The field tent 100 can include at least one infrared (IR) heating panel 110 secured to an inner surface of the enclosure 102 to provide heat to a patient inside the enclosure 102.

As shown in FIGS. 1A-1D, in some embodiments, the support structure 104 comprises a flexible, yet rigid skeletal support system around which the flexible surface 106 can be secured. The support structure 104 can comprise metal, plastic, fiberglass, or any other material suitable for providing adequate support for the flexible surface 106. In some cases the support structure 104 is formed by connecting multiple flexible, strong rod members according to known tent construction. As will be discussed in detail hereinafter, in some embodiments the support structure 104 can comprise one or more pre-shaped bladders filled with gas or liquid to provide structural support for the enclosure 102.

The skeletal support structure 104 can define sidewall areas that support a flexible surface 106 defining a sidewall 108 of the enclosure 102. In various embodiments, the support structure 104 can define any number and geometry of sidewall areas, and resultantly, the enclosure 102 can include any number and geometry of sides and sidewalls 108. As an example, and although not shown in the figures, it is contemplated that some support structures may provide a separate roof surface disposed directly above the patient inside the enclosure. In the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1A, the support structure 104 of the enclosure 102 provides four sidewall areas in which the flexible surface(s) 106 define four sidewalls 108.

In some embodiments, the base of the support structure defines an opening in the bottom of the enclosure across which no flexible surface or material is positioned. Illustrated in FIGS. 1B and 1C, the bottom opening 112 of the enclosure 102 allows the enclosure 102 to be placed over a patient in the field without requiring any movement of the patient. For example, the enclosure 102 may be lowered directly over a patient laying on a floor or exposed ground.

As will be discussed further herein, in some cases the enclosure 102 is configured to attach to a bottom surface on which a patient lay. For example, the bottom surface may be part of a patient support apparatus, such as a stretcher or a gurney. Accordingly, a patient on a patient support apparatus can be transported with the field tent 100 disposed over them. In this embodiment the base of the enclosure 102 can comprise at least one attachment member 114 for attaching the tent 100 to the bottom surface. Attachment members 114 can include clips, clamps, ties, or any other known mechanisms for securing one structure to another. In some embodiments the attachment members 114 are formed as pins or dowels that are sized and shaped to fit within a corresponding hole or receptacle provided by a stretcher, gurney, other patient support apparatus, or other bottom surface.

In some embodiments, the flexible surface 106 of the enclosure can comprise a non-flammable and/or water resistant flexible material for protecting a patient in the tent from elements external thereto. For example, the flexible surface 106 can include any of a number of materials known to be a suitable tent fabric. In various embodiments, the flexible surface 106 can form any number of sidewalls 108 for the enclosure 102. In some embodiments, each sidewall 108 comprises a separate piece of a flexible material defining a separate flexible surface. In other embodiments, a single flexible surface 106 can define multiple sidewalls 108. For example, the support structure 104 can define a number of sidewall areas to be covered by the flexible surface 106. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the support structure 104 defines four sidewall areas. In some embodiments, a single piece of flexible material can be disposed all of the sidewall areas defined by the support structure 104.

In some embodiments, at least one sidewall 108 of the enclosure 102 comprises an openable panel 116 covering an opening 118 disposed in the flexible surface 106. The openable panel 116 and opening 118 can provide access to the interior of the enclosure 102 through a sidewall 108 without requiring movement or repositioning of the entire enclosure 102. For example, a medical attendant can access a patient inside the enclosure 102 via the openable panel 116. In some embodiments, the openable panel 116 can be opened at the edge of a sidewall 108, for instance where a sidewall 108 meets a portion of the support structure 104. In other embodiments, the openable panel 116 can be positioned more centrally in the sidewall 108 between portions of the support structure 104.

In some configurations, the openable panel 116 can be held closed by panel securing members 120 such as buttons, hook and loop fasteners, magnets, zippers and the like. In some embodiments, panel securing members 120 can be disposed on the openable panel 116 or on a sidewall 108 proximate the openable panel 116. Depending on the type of panel securing members 120 used, panel securing members 120 can be disposed on both the openable panel 116 and a sidewall 108. As shown in FIG. 1B, openable panel 116 can comprise panel securing member 120, while sidewall 108 includes cooperating panel securing member 120a. In other examples, the openable panel 116 is configured to remain closed by default until opened to provide access to the interior of the enclosure 102. The openable panel 116 in conjunction with the open bottom of the enclosure 102 allows the enclosure 102 to be placed over a patient in the field and then for the patient to be accessed within the enclosure 102 without removing the enclosure 102 from over the patient or the patient from within the enclosure.

Embodiments of the tent 100 can be configured to provide heat to a patient within the enclosure 102. Some embodiments of the enclosure 102 comprise at least one infrared (IR) heating panel 110 secured to an inner surface of the enclosure 102, for example the inner surface of a sidewall 108. The IR heating panel 110 can emit infrared radiation into the enclosure 102 toward a patient therein to provide heat to the patient and assist in combating hypothermia in the field. The IR radiation is capable of warming the patient without contacting him or her, reducing complications that can be involved with direct contact with the patient.

According to some embodiments, one or more IR heating panels may be provided according to the teachings of U.S. Pat. App. Publ. No. 2001/0315672, U.S. Pat. App. Publ. No. 2013/0105458, and/or U.S. Pat. App. Publ. No. 2013/0319998, each of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference. Other types of known IR heating panels may also be used and the invention is not limited to any particular configuration of IR heating panel.

Some enclosures 102 can include a plurality of IR heating panels 110 secured to inner surfaces 109 of the enclosure 102. As shown from the bottom view of the exemplary tent 100 shown in FIG. 1D, in some embodiments, the enclosure 102 can comprise at least one IR heating panel 110 secured to the interior 109 of each sidewall 108, as well as the openable panel 116 of the enclosure 102. In general, the enclosure 102 can comprise any number of IR heating panels disposed on any number of interior surfaces of the enclosure. In some embodiments, an enclosure 102 can include one or more IR heating panels 110 disposed therein not secured to a single interior surface. For example, as can be seen in FIG. 1D, the enclosure 102 comprises a heating panel 110a substantially parallel to the plane defined by the bottom opening and secured proximate the top of the tent 100 to the interior 109 of each sidewall 108.

Infrared heating panels can be secured to the interior surface of the enclosure in a variety of ways. For example, panels can be secured to attachment points on a sidewall, such as one or more hooks, loops, tongues, grommets, or other known attachment points. Additionally or alternatively, panels can be attached to points on the support structure by similar mechanisms. Panels can themselves comprise attachment mechanisms such as elastic restraints, ropes, hooks, loops, or other known mechanisms fixed to the heating panel and configured for attaching to the attachment points in the sidewalls.

Referring to FIG. 1E, according to some embodiments, multiple flexible attachment members 121 of varying lengths, such as ropes or elastic strips, are used to suspend IR heating panels 110 from one or more sidewalls 108, a separate roof surface, and/or an openable panel of the enclosure. For example, four nylon ropes 121 can be used to suspend a heating panel 110 from a sloping sidewall 108 of a tent so as to position the heating panel within the tent at a desired location with respect to a patient. In this situation the length of the ropes 121 can be suitably varied to accommodate the slope of the sidewall. The lengths can also be varied to position the panel higher and/or lower with respect to the patient depending on factors such as the power output of the heating panel, the desired heat profile, and/or a desired amount of accessible space about the patient.

In addition to IR heating panels, some embodiments of the enclosure can include one or more ultraviolet (UV) light sources disposed therein. UV light sources can act to reduce the levels of bacteria in the air within the tent, improving the environment for the patient. As shown in FIG. 1D, a UV light source 115 can be secured to an interior surface of the enclosure by methods similar to those contemplated for the IR heating panels. In some embodiments, UV light sources are secured to the interior of the enclosure using the same attachment points as the IR heating panels, or can be attached to one or more IR heating panel directly. The UV light source may be connected to and powered by the same power supply system as the IR heating panel(s), or may include a separate power supply system.

As referenced above, in some cases the portable IR heating field tent 100 can be attached to a bottom surface, thus providing a more enclosed space about a patient. Turning to FIGS. 2A and 2B, exploded assembly views of an exemplary transportable human heating system 130 are illustrated according to some embodiments. FIG. 2C is an assembled perspective view of the transportable human heating system 130. The heating system 130 includes a portable IR heating field tent 100, as discussed above, and a patient support apparatus 124. The tent provides an enclosure 102 defined by a support structure 104 and sidewalls 108. The enclosure 102 includes at least one IR heating panel 110 for emitting infrared radiation into the interior of the enclosure 102. The enclosure 102 is disposed over a patient 122 for providing heat to the patient. As shown, the enclosure 102 further includes an openable panel 116 providing a patient access opening 118. The openable panel 116 allows an attendant to access the patient 122 in the enclosure 102 via the patient access opening 118 while still providing heat to the patient 122 in the enclosure 102. As shown, the openable panel 116 can include an IR heating panel 110 for providing additional heating IR radiation to the patient 122 when the openable panel 116 is closed.

In some embodiments, the support structure 104 can be designed to provide sidewalls 108 that each face generally toward the patient 122 within the enclosure 102. Such a configuration is shown in FIGS. 1A-2C, in which each sidewall 108 is at an acute angle with respect to the field surface on which the patient 122 is positioned. In such an embodiment, the interior surface of each sidewall 108 generally faces the patient 122. Accordingly, IR heating panels 110 secured to the inner surface of one or more sidewalls 108 can be directed substantially toward the patient 122 to maximize the IR heating effect on the patient 122.

As shown in FIGS. 2A-2C, the transportable human heating system 130 in this embodiment includes a patient support apparatus 124. As shown in FIG. 2B, the tent enclosure 102 can be secured to the patient support apparatus 124 that is already supporting a patient 122. Enclosure 102 can be secured to the patient support apparatus 124 at attachment member 114. Various embodiments can comprise any number of attachment members 114 for facilitating the securement. In some embodiments, the attachment members 114 are disposed on the support structure 104 of the enclosure 102. For example, in the embodiment of FIG. 2B, the enclosure 102 can be lowered onto patient support apparatus 124 as shown by arrows 125. In some examples, the attachment members 114 are formed as pins at the bottom of the support structure 104. When the bottom of the support structure 104 engages the patient support apparatus 124, pins enter holes in the patient support apparatus 124 and secure the enclosure 102 to the patient support apparatus 124 as shown in FIG. 2C. The patient support apparatus 124 allows the patient 122 to be transported to a treatment facility for further treatment while providing infrared heat therapy to the patient 122.

Although in some case embodiments of a field tent may be used for enclosing and protecting a patient without actively energizing an IR heating panel, in many cases the IR heating panel(s) will be electrically powered during use of the tent. Accordingly, in some embodiments field tents comprise a power supply system for providing electrical power to at least one IR heating panel. In some embodiments, part or all of the power supply system can be integrated into the enclosure. For example, the power supply system can include a control box secured to the enclosure and electrically coupled to the at least one IR heating panel and provide electrical power thereto. The control box can comprise or be in communication with a processor for governing operation of the at least one IR heating panel. In some embodiments, a control box can be connectable to the IR heating panels while being external to the enclosure.

The power supply system can incorporate a power source, which in some cases may be a portable battery pack. However, some IR heating panels require alternating current (AC) electricity for operation. Accordingly, such power supply systems can include a portable battery pack and a DC to AC converter, such as an inverter. The power supply system can include a control box for appropriately directing electrical power to IR heating panels. For example, in some embodiments, the control box can determine the type of electrical power source applied to the system, and convert and/or direct electrical power to IR heating panels as appropriate.

The transportable human heating system 130 of FIG. 2C includes a power supply system 126 for directing electrical power to at least one IR heating panel 110 in the enclosure 102. Power supply system 126 includes a control box 127 for receiving electricity from a power source and subsequently directing electrical power to at least one IR heating panel 110 via a power harness 117 electrically coupled to the one or more heating panel(s). Although not shown in the figures, it should be appreciated that the power harness 117 can be suitably routed and split into multiple paths or connected to a distribution system running along the interior of the field tent as needed to reach each IR heating panel 110. In the case of FIG. 2C, the power supply system 126 is configured to receive AC power from an AC source via an electrical cord and plug.

FIGS. 3A and 3B depict alternative embodiments of transportable human heating systems 130 comprising a portable IR heating field tent and a power supply system 126. The power supply system 126 of FIG. 3A includes a DC power supply 129 such as a battery pack. In the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 3A, control box 127 receives DC electricity from portable battery pack 129 and outputs appropriate electrical power to at least one IR heating panel 100 in the enclosure 102. In some embodiments, control box 127 can include or otherwise be in communication with a DC to AC converter. Such a control box 127 can receive DC electricity from the DC power supply 129 and provide AC electricity to at least one IR heating panel 110.

In various embodiments, portable battery packs can include a single battery or a plurality of batteries. Multiple batteries can be arranged in series or in parallel. An exemplary battery for battery pack configuration can be rated at 12V and 110 A. In an exemplary battery pack, three such batteries can be arranged in series (rated at 36V and 110 A), requiring a variable VDC input inverter, for example, or in parallel (rated at 12V and 330 A), requiring a 12 VDC input inverter. In some embodiments, an IR heating panel can require 120 VAC or 230 VAC for operation. In general, the control box 127 enables the power supplied to IR heating panels to be varied depending on available power sources and desired heating. In some embodiments, the DC to AC converter is configured to provide a 120 VAC output at various power levels, such as 1000, 1500 and 2000 W, for example. Thus, in an exemplary embodiment, in order for three 12 VDC batteries in series to produce 1000 W at 120 VAC, the batteries are required to supply 1000 W/36 VDC=27.8 A, while the output to the IR heating panels comprises 1000 W/120 VAC=8.3 A.

The DC power supply 129 shown in FIG. 3A can be provided in a variety of configurations, and in some cases may be provided as part of the human heating system 130 or may be an external component that is provided and connect to the system 130 at the time of use. As just one example, in some cases the DC power supply 129 can be provided by an onboard battery of a vehicle in the field, or possibly by a vehicle transporting the heating system 130 and patient. In the case that the power supply 129 is provided with the system 130, it can be designed as a portable battery pack that can be easily transported alongside the tent 100 and connected after the tent 100 is deployed. Of course, other configurations not mentioned here are also possible.

Similar to the embodiment in FIG. 2C, the embodiment shown in FIG. 3B illustrates a power supply system 126 configured to receive and provide AC electrical power to at least one IR heating panel 110 in the enclosure 102. The power supply system 126 of FIG. 3B includes a control box 127 receiving electrical power from a source and appropriately directing electrical power to at least one IR heating panel 110. In this embodiment, the power supply system includes a power interface for connecting to an external power source. In various settings and environments, AC power can be provided, for example, by an external field vehicle having an AC power source or other power generator.

For utilizing such power sources, the embodiment of FIG. 3B includes a connector 119 configured to removably connect to an external AC power source. The external AC power source can include a field vehicle with such a source, a building, or known power source. In some embodiments, if a field vehicle does not include an AC power source, the battery of a field vehicle in combination with a DC to AC converter can be utilized as a power supply system as shown and described with regard to FIG. 3A.

As discussed above with reference to FIGS. 1A-1D, in some embodiments, the support structure 104 comprises a flexible, yet rigid skeletal support system as shown in FIGS. 2C and 3A. In certain embodiments, the tent support structure 104 can comprise one or more pre-shaped bladders 105 filled with gas or liquid to provide structural support for the enclosure 102 as shown in FIG. 3B. Bladders 105 can be filled with liquid such as water or a gas such as air to provide structural support for the enclosure 102. In some embodiments, bladders 105 are pre-shaped so that when filled with a gas or liquid they take on the specific desired shape of the support structure 102. Bladders 105 can include an inlet port for receiving gas or liquid into the interior of the bladder and an outlet port for expunging the liquid or gas therefrom. In some instances, the inlet and outlet ports are the same.

The systems of FIGS. 2 and 3 include enclosures that can themselves stand alone as portable IR heating field tents. Accordingly, FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate variations of embodiments of IR heating field tents, enclosures, and transportable human heating systems. Various embodiments include a skeletal support structure comprising rods of a suitable material. Other embodiments include a support structure comprising at least one pre-shaped bladder for filling with liquid or gas to provide support. In addition, among various embodiments, the power supply system for providing electrical power to the IR heating panels of the systems can receive AC electricity or DC electricity. In some embodiments, the power supply system can convert DC electricity to AC electricity for providing to the IR heating panels.

It will be noted that various support structures and power supply systems can be combined to form any of a variety of embodiments. For example, the support structure can comprise a plurality of bladders, while the power supply system can include any of an AC power source, a DC power source in combination with a DC to AC converter, and/or a connector for connecting to an external AC or DC power source. Similarly, embodiments in which the support structure comprises a skeletal support structure without bladders can include any of the aforementioned power supply systems. Any such combinations can be used in systems including enclosures of any number of sidewalls and any number of IR heating panels.

In some embodiments, the enclosure 102 can be folded or otherwise transformed into a smaller size for convenient transport and storage. In such embodiments, the support structure 104 can be configured to collapse, disassemble, bend, or be manipulated in some other way to permit the overall size and/or shape of the enclosure 102 to be reduced. In an exemplary embodiment, the support structure 104 comprises a plurality of bladders 105 filled with pressurized air providing support to the enclosure. To prepare the enclosure 102 for storage/transport, air can be let out of the bladders 105, depressurizing the bladders 105 and allowing the enclosure 102 to be folded efficiently. In other embodiments, flexible rod members combined to form a rigid skeletal support structure 104 can disassembled, collapsed, or otherwise gathered in the usual manner.

In some examples, the enclosure 104 can be folded such that IR heating panels 110 can remain within the enclosure 102. For example, in embodiments in which IR heating panels 110 are secured to sidewalls 108 of the enclosure 102, when the bladders 105 of the support structure 104 are deflated, sidewalls 108 can be collapsed such that IR heating panels 110 lie substantially above one another, while the flexible surface 106 making up the sidewalls 108 can be folded around the aligned panels 110. In some cases the use of flexible attachment members 121 as shown in FIG. 1E can allow the heating panels 110 to be collapsed and stored more easily in a compact manner. Thus, in the case of, for example, rectangular IR heating panels, the enclosure can be folded into an approximately rectangular shape around the IR heating panels. In some embodiments, the IR heating panels can remain fully electrically connected to a control box 127 or other control system for controlling operation of the panels even when the enclosure 102 is in a fully folded state.

In addition to being foldable for convenient storage and transport, in some embodiments, an enclosure 102 can include a rapid deployment mechanism configured to automatically deploy the enclosure 102 from a folded state to a deployed state. For example, a rigid support structure 104 can include a spring member having an unloaded position wherein the support structure 104 is in the fully deployed position. In some such embodiments, the enclosure 102 can comprise a loading mechanism for maintaining the enclosure 102 in the folded state and the spring member in a loaded state. Subsequently, when the loading mechanism is released, the spring member can return to its unloaded state, fully deploying the enclosure 102.

In embodiments of the enclosure 102 having a support structure 104 comprising one or more pre-shaped bladders 105, a system 130 and/or enclosure 102 can include a pressurized unit for rapidly filling the one or more bladders 105. For example, in some embodiments, a folded enclosure 102 comprises a supply of pressurized gas, such as carbon dioxide, such that when actuated, the pressurized gas is rapidly directed into the one or more pre-formed bladders 105, causing the enclosure 102 to rapidly deploy to a pre-defined shape. Accordingly, various embodiments of enclosures and/or systems can include a rapid deployment mechanism for rapidly deploying the enclosure automatically, quickly providing an enclosure in the field for a patient in need. In embodiments in which the at least one IR heating panel remains in the enclosure and coupled to the control box when in the folded state, a rapidly deployed enclosure can be ready for immediate or near-immediate use.

FIG. 4 is a process flow diagram illustrating exemplary operation of a transportable human heating system. A user can provide 150 a transportable human heating system comprising an enclosure and at least one IR heating panel in a field, for example, when necessary or desired for care of a patient. Providing 150 the system can include, for example, deploying 151 an enclosure from a folded state into a deployed state. Next, a user can dispose 152 the enclosure over a patient to enclose the patient therein. In some embodiments, the enclosure comprises a support structure defining an open bottom by which the enclosure is disposed over the patient, enclosing him or her therein. The user can actuate 154 the IR heating panel to direct IR radiation toward the patient. In some examples, actuating the IR heating panel can comprise providing electrical power to at least one IR heating panel secured to, for example, a sidewall of the enclosure, thereby directing IR radiation toward the patient.

The IR radiation warms the patient within the enclosure, helping prevent hypothermia without contacting the patient. An attendant can access and provide 156 immediate, in-field treatment to the patient via an openable panel in the enclosure. If further care is needed, the patient can be placed 158 on a patient support apparatus such as a stretcher or a gurney, and the portable IR heating field tent can be secured to the apparatus. The patient can then be transported 160 to a medical facility for further treatment while the portable IR heating field tent continues to provide IR radiation to warm the patient during transport.

While emitting IR radiation, IR heating panels or means for providing electrical power thereto can emit undesirable fields in addition to the IR radiation. For example, an operating IR heating panel can emit unwanted electric fields and other electromagnetic radiation. Accordingly, the panels and/or the tent can be configured to reduce the generation of unwanted electromagnetic emissions to low levels. For example, in some embodiments, the IR heating panels are configured to reduce the emission of electromagnetic fields by arranging electrical conductors such that electromagnetic radiation is emitted from the IR heating panel in negating patterns, such as described in U.S. Pat. App. Publ. No. 2001/0315672, U.S. Pat. App. Publ. No. 2013/0105458, and/or U.S. Pat. App. Publ. No. 2013/0319998, each of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

Further, in some configurations, the flexible surface of the enclosure can be configured to prevent electric fields from passing into or out of the enclosure. For example, in some situations, a patient might be transported in a portable IR heating field tent in vehicle or aircraft carrying equipment sensitive to stray electric fields. In another situation, a portable IR heating field tent may be required to be used in a location exposed to dangerous electric fields. Thus, electric field shielding can act to protect equipment or people outside of the tent from electric fields emitted by the IR heating panels, and to protect a patient inside the enclosure from electric fields external to the enclosure. To provide shielding, in some examples, the flexible surface of the enclosure can comprise a metallic fabric to prevent electric fields from passing through the flexible surface.

Methods and processes herein described are exemplary and may be performed with steps omitted or permuted while remaining within the scope of the invention. Various systems, tents, and enclosures have been described. Such embodiments are exemplary and do not limit the scope of the invention in any way. For example, elements of described embodiments can be combined to create additional embodiments. These embodiments and others are within the scope of the following claims.