This year’s seventh annual NASA Tech Briefs “Create the Future Design Contest,” presented by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., recognized innovation in product design in six categories: Consumer Products, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable Technologies, and Transportation. On the following pages, you’ll meet the Grand Winner, as well as the winners and honorable mentions in all six categories. Congratulations to this year’s winners, and thanks to all of the engineers who submitted their creative design ideas. To view the contest entries online, visit .

Grand Winner (Winner of $20,000)

LifeBelt® CPR
Deca-Medics, Inc.
Columbus, OH

Sudden Cardiac Arrests (SCAs) are the cause of over 450,000 deaths each year in the United States. Roughly 70% of all arrests occur at home, 25% occur at work or in public places, and 5% in the hospital. The popularity of public-access defibrillation has not made a significant improvement in these statistics. In fact, defibrillation is only effective for certain types of cardiac arrest victims, and fewer than 35% even benefit from this therapy. According to the newly revised American Heart Association guidelines, CPR is now the primary therapy for cardiac arrest.

Unfortunately, most people are unable to perform adequate chest compressions due to fatigue, inadequate strength, and the lack of feedback for proper compression depth. The average rescuer is only capable of producing effective compressions for about two minutes, which is far less than the typical 8- to 10-minute emergency response time.

The LifeBelt CPR device makes it easy for anyone to perform high-quality CPR compressions for extended periods of time. The LifeBelt has three main features that make it better than “hands-only” CPR. First, only half as much force is needed, resulting in less fatigue and more effective compressions over longer periods of time. It also means that smaller people will find it much easier to give CPR. Second, there is feedback that gives the rescuer confidence that he or she is not pushing too hard, or hard enough. And third, the device has comfortable hand grips to allow for less stress and fatigue.

The design is compact and lightweight, easy to clean, and uses an intuitive readout to warn if the compression depth is too deep or too shallow. It has an innovative belt that quickly attaches in order to enable a rescuer to start CPR in 15 seconds or less.

The value of using the Lifebelt CPR device is that the average rescuer will be able to perform high-quality CPR – regardless of their size and physical strength — for a longer period of time and increase the possibility of a successful resuscitation.

According to Thom Lach, president and CEO of Deca- Medics, the primary market for the LifeBelt device will be “the professional first-responders; specifically, the non-squad application (fire trucks), as well as in hospital crash carts. Success in this market will allow us to build clinical reference sites that will provide the evidence needed to lead to a broader distribution into public markets,” he explained.

Added Lach, “It is our contention that there should be a LifeBelt device wherever there is an automated external defibrillator (AED). In fact, it should be in more places than AEDs, because only one in five cardiac arrest victims are candidates for defibrillation. All victims will benefit from CPR including those that could be defibrillated, as the heart will be better prepared for the outcome of a successful defibrillation.”

Lach estimates that the time it will take to complete a commercial version of the LifeBelt is roughly eight months. FDA clearance could take an additional three to six months or longer. “With a little luck, more hard work, and the recognition we will receive from this award,” he said, “we could be at market by this time next year.”

Ultimately, the company envisions several versions of the device, including a low-priced public-access version, and a home version that is designed for a single use, similar to a fire extinguisher. Said Lach, “The earlier we re-establish blood flow, the better a victim’s chance of survival. Getting to the point where the LifeBelt is ubiquitous may mean the difference to many whose hearts are too good to die.”

For more information, contact Thom Lach at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit .

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the April, 2009 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.