By Cristi Laquer
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Inflatable Rehab Tent
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EAGAN, Minn. — Ease of use and an ability to work effectively in a wide range of environments are vital when it comes to rehab equipment.
It's these qualities that lay behind the design of the Inflatable Rehab Tent, according to its Minnesota developers, Landmark Creations.
"Firefighters can take this in the back of one of their vehicles, deploy it in five minutes and have a shelter for recovery, rehab, first aid… just to get out of whatever elements they're in," said Landmark Creations President Tom Meacham.
Filling a need
Landmark Creations, which has traditionally made inflatable costumes and advertisements, became involved in fire rehabilitation through Bob Treichel, a retired volunteer firefighter whose wife, Teresa, works at the company.
"Firefighters can't go for a long duration with all their equipment," Treichel said. "It's very demanding work in the heat or cold. They have to take breaks and get fluid in them – if nothing else, get new air tanks,"
The airtight, 20 x 12 portable, mobile shelters can comfortably hold more than 20 people. They are designed to allow enough room for paramedics to set up their equipment in order to monitor on-scene firefighters.
"Different departments normally do different things," said Treichel. "We did have a school bus at as part of a command center, but you can only get about half a dozen firefighters in it at one time."
Treichel approached Landmark Creations on behalf of his former department, the Eagan, Minn., Fire Department, and the Eagan Lion's Club, which helped pay for the tent. 'they told us what they needed, we told them what we could do," Meacham said. 'then it was a combination of try this, try that."
The Inflatable Rehab Tent is produced differently from the company's other products, with the firefighters' needs in mind. Its other inflatables, Meacham said, normally need a fan running to stay inflated. "We developed something air tight for firefighters so it would stay inflated," he said.
The company works with fire departments on a custom basis, building each tent to order. Size and color are customizable, and the tents can be printed with labels to mark their department or function.
"Firefighters aren't just using them for rehab at fires. They're also good for first aid at community events," Meacham said.
But the basic features stay the same.
The biggest advantages are mobility and the fact they can stay inflated indefinitely, according to Meacham.
"Propane heaters can warm the air inside," he added. "It isn't the goal to make it 70 degrees in there. It's just to break the wind or rain or snow. Sometimes it's just getting into the shade so they can get water and hang up some gear."