An enhanced rescue hoist glove will soon be available for first responders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) collaborated with Higher Dimension Materials, Inc. (HDM) and North Carolina State University Textile Protect and Comfort Center to identify and develop the best materials with which to create a more durable and flexible glove for rescue hoist operations.
Helicopter hoist rescues can take place over water, the side of a mountain, or other hazardous environments. Gloves protect responders’ hands from injury when guiding the hoist cable during rescue descents and ascents. Hoist operators handle the cable with significant force to prevent swinging and the friction can cause gloves to wear—exposing their hands to injury or creating debris that can compromise the cable system. Previous versions of the hoist glove would only last one or two rescue hoists before fraying. Responders needed gloves that could last longer without compromising safety or rescue operations, in addition to providing better flexibility and comfort.
“Rescuers need to focus on their mission without worrying about their protective gear,” said Kimberli Jones-Holt, S&T Program Manager for the rescue hoist glove project. “We are excited to bring to market the Enhanced Rescue Hoist Glove with a wear indicator will help improve helicopter rescues.”
S&T learned of the need for better hoisting gloves from members of its First Responder Resource Group, which is made up of 120 active and retired first responders who help S&T maintain focus on the top priority needs of responders in the field. S&T sponsored the research and development of abrasion-resistant glove materials and alternative glove designs, which resulted in two prototype fingerless glove designs. S&T’s National Urban Security Technology Laboratory conducted an operational field assessment to evaluate the prototypes’ suitability for use by emergency responders.
The initial production run of up to 500 rescue hoist gloves will be provided primarily to search and rescue helicopter units in the United States. The final product will be available for purchase from the HDM Altai® website and HDM is working with distributors to sell the rescue hoist gloves beginning Spring 2021.