TORONTO – That old military saw “an army marches on its stomach” might just as easily apply to transport of much needed ventilators for patients suffering from the coronavirus. Mounting systems for ground and air ambulances like the Bracket Pro Serie for Ventilators launched March 5 by Quebec City-based Technimount System Inc. are the “soldiers” carrying ventilators and other medical devices for hospital bound patients, Technimount CEO Carl Bouchard told BioWorld.
“Nothing in North America is designed to carry multiple devices, including those required on a stretcher,” said Bouchard. “This is exactly our mission. Mounting brackets like ours help ambulance crews better manage equipment so they can better focus on patients.”
No room to move
In the 15 years prior to Technimount’s creation in July 2015 engineering standards for medical device mounting systems in ambulances and intra-hospital transport vehicles were so weak, Bouchard said, they compromised the safety of the crews and patients. Worse, medical equipment manufacturers – and even ambulance designers – took insufficient notice of the space needed for this kind of equipment.
“The space inside an ambulance is critical but also very restrictive,” said Bouchard. “It is the last point in the design layout of an ambulance that might have a few counters for working with small components such as pads and syringes, but not much more.”
Mounting systems for medical devices typically show their stuff under two different scenarios: supporting a monitor and defibrillator during bumpy 911 emergency calls to car accidents or multiple devices in critical care transport where a patient’s condition is very severe or has deteriorated.
“Unlike other companies we’re not selling just a bracket to support these devices,” said Bouchard. “We’re selling a management system for an array of portable medical equipment of different sizes and shapes that include defibrillators, pumps and perfusion devices.”
Of particular importance – never more so than in a pandemic like COVID-19 – are portable ventilators used during the toughest emergencies. A standard bracket carrying a ventilator cannot be moved from a counter in the ambulance to a stretcher or to the wall, Bouchard said.
“Our system has a small disc at the back of the bracket so the ventilator can be switched over from a counter in the ambulance to a mechanical arm installed on the stretcher or on the wall. In addition, a disc at the bottom which accepts the bracket slides into a universal base which we sell to the twenty-eight principal ambulance builders in North America.”
Another design consideration is damage that can occur to a US$50,000 ventilator from a sudden directional change or accident in route. “Even if you don’t have an ambulance crash, simply braking very suddenly and pulling the ventilator down can damage the equipment. That can paralyze an operation and result in major replacement costs,” said Bouchard.
A single inventory solution
The Bracket Pro’s flexibility caught the immediate attention of manufacturers at the EMS Today Conference, in Tampa, Florida in March. But something else buyers will see at shows like this, Bouchard noted, are mounting brackets for all kinds of individual medical devices. “Ours is not just for one brand or model. People can have a mounting solution for whatever medical device they’re currently using.”
Since it went into business in 2015, Technimount has mobilized 55 distributors across North America and racked up annual sales of US$3.5 million to US$5.5 million. About 75% of the Canadian company’s sales have been in the U.S., kick starting development of its new ventilator mounting system. In fact, Technimount currently has 75 other bracket and mounting system projects underway.
How much of this is fueled by concerns over COVID-19? Bouchard won’t overstate this. Though anything can happen going forward, sales for medical device mounting systems have not gone through the roof as some might suspect.