The Army has begun testing medical devices that insulate intravenous fluid from blistering cold or desert heat. The Norwegian technology company Medical Rescue Equipment Holding developed the product, INFU Plus, which keeps lifesaving liquids at the appropriate temperature for two hours in extreme conditions and without a power source.
The Army ordered 36 units at a cost of about $750 each. The product is a bag lined with a patented polyester fabric that reduces temperature loss. The Army also ordered 12 INFU Boxes, which are 2-foot-tall units that can be installed in ambulances and military vehicles. The boxes cost about $4,000 each and hold the bags until they’re ready to be taken to where combat wounded soldiers are located.
“One of the major reasons soldiers die is because they need IV fluid on the battlefield,” says Knut Fangberget, the company’s chairman. These fluids have to be kept at specific temperatures before they’re injected into a victim’s veins. “It could really save soldiers lives, and it’s a low-tech solution that doesn’t require electricity.”
The company won an Army contract three years ago to develop the bags, which work in outside temperatures spanning -40 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The bag has been approved for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration, and the company expects the box to be approved by March. At that point, Fangberget says, the company will begin marketing the product to hospitals and other agencies in the United States and abroad.
The bags can hold just about any IV fluid, except blood, which is an organism and has a unique set of requirements. The company is currently developing a system for insulating blood on the battlefield without a power source, Fangberget says.