Medical Prototype Development Lab improves SMEED
July 5, 2012
FORT DETRICK, Md. (July 5, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity is home to a unique service within the Department of Defense -- the Medical Prototype Development Laboratory.
Under the direction of the Medical Support Systems Project Management Office, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, or USAMMDA, employs a small team of engineers and engineering technicians who work to design and build prototypes, laboratory testing equipment and other devices designed to get products to the field.
"Anyway, we are able to get the products to the field to support the U.S. Forces, we work to build solutions, whether it be medical materiel or aiding a researcher with unique laboratory testing devices," said Mark Brown, chief of the Medical Prototype Development Laboratory, or MPDL. "Clearly we must consider requirements, capability, capacity, and priorities."
The MPDL, or the "Shop," as they are nicknamed, does not offer their services exclusively to USAMMDA. They provide support and services to the other U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's laboratories, as well as to the other U.S. military branches, such as the Air Force.
Recently, the Air Force contacted the MPDL for assistance in modifying an existing product to meet their casualty evacuation needs. They wanted the Shop to redesign the Special Medical Emergency Evacuation Device, known simply as SMEED, which was originally developed by Staff Sgt. Eric Smeed in 2000.
"During the early stages of development, Staff Sergeant Smeed worked with the Shop to refine his product," said Brown. "We produced a dozen prototypes and aided in the production of the technical data package so we are very familiar with the product."
The SMEED is a mobile platform that attaches to litters, providing a staging area above the patient for life-saving medical equipment. The original SMEED was designed to hold bulkier, more cumbersome equipment than is used today.
While the SMEED offers a valuable service, the Air Force Special Operations Command, Special Operations Surgical Team needed a lighter weight, more flexible design to more effectively accomplish their mission.
"The Air Force worked with the Shop on their requirements for an improved SMEED," said Steve Hawbecker, director of the MSS Project Management Office. "After prototyping a few designs, the team was able to come up with a lighter and more flexible device supporting their unique mission."
The new version of the SMEED has a single litter attachment designed to hold surgical instruments as well as medical equipment with the addition of a tandem litter attachment.
"There are currently eight working prototypes being tested and evaluated in theater by AFSOC medics," said Brown.
According to Brown, the Shop will continue to work with the Air Force to evaluate the process, analyze test results and monitor user evaluations.
"This information is used to refine the product," explained Brown. "This process is designed to be linear, but the fact of the matter is this is not always the case. However, it is this process that makes a good product a great one."
This is the second time the SMEED has been brought to the MPDL. The first time was to help with the original development. It seems only fitting that it be brought back to the Shop for modifications to keep up with the times.
"Working on products like the SMEED is an opportunity to play a small role in a much larger effort of providing world class medical products to those who have dedicated their lives to defending our freedom," said Brown.