Sometimes, valuable tools come from unexpected places — and sometimes, those tools can start a movement that saves lives. This is the case with the ADAPTS sling, an innovative transfer sling that can be invaluable in an emergency situation. The ADAPTS sling is the brainchild of Robin Wearley, a former flight attendant who grew concerned about poor evacuation planning for passengers with disabilities.
The usual protocol is to let all nondisabled passengers out first, then lift the person under their knees and shoulders and carry them to safety. Wearley saw many problems with this. What if it’s a rapid emergency and everyone must evacuate quickly? What if the staff isn’t trained on the proper lift technique? What if the passenger is an amputee or has weakened bones or joints? There had to be a better way.
A February 2016 airplane evacuation interview with John Morris of wheelchairtravel inspired Wearley to design the ADAPTS sling. “It’s intuitive to use and resembles a soft stretcher,” she explains, “and the person is cradled in it like a hammock.”
Two years and seven prototype designs later, Wearley began touring the country at disability product expos to sell the final product — a bright yellow, foldable sling with six handles. It is manufactured almost entirely in the United States. Although originally designed for airplanes, the ADAPTS sling works in many situations. “I hear about other applications from our customers, so the research and development come directly from the end-users,” Wearley says.
It can be used to get out of bed in immediate evacuations, to be carried down a stairwell when an elevator is broken, or even in an emergency shelter to transfer from bed to wheelchair.
Image credit: Photo by Author