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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Watch: Cooling vest saves Dubai workers from heat stroke

A vest with the ability to reduce core body temperature has proven its worth after saving the lives of five workers in Dubai this summer.

The Core Body Cooling Vest (CAERvest) was used to treat the workers who suffered heat stroke at two construction sites in Dubai throughout July and August.

The vest’s ability to lower body temperatures from 42°C to 37°C within half an hour piqued the interest of Dubai Corporation of Ambulance Services who plan to equip 90 ambulances with the vests, according to Dr Omar Al Sakaf, director of technical and medial affairs.

Dr Al Sakaf said the “life saving device” cuts out time spent waiting for ambulance services to arrive.

“We saved about five lives from heat exhaustion. Previously I had to call an ambulance and wait and spend time on treatment,” he said.

“But this was present on the spot and on time and the patient recovered within first hours. Previously they had to stay at the hospital from 1 to 3 days, depending on the severity of the heat stroke.”

He said the vest could also be used at beaches and pools and could be of benefit to fire fighters.

The tubed, navy blue vest does not require pre-cooling or charging. Once squeezed, a red torch-shaped device releases a fluid throughout the hampers of the vest, said commercial director Jonathon Weinberg.

The fluid starts a safe chemical endothermic reaction which makes the liquid freeze.

Jonathan Weinberg, commercial director of CAERvest, said the vest eliminates the need to hospitalise someone with heat stroke. Pawan Singh / The National
Jonathan Weinberg, commercial director of CAERvest, said the vest eliminates the need to hospitalise someone with heat stroke. Pawan Singh / The National

“You lay it on the chest of the patient and it sucks out one thousand calories worth of heat,” he said.

The mixing of the chemicals means the vest can only be used once but Dr Al Sakaf said the £500 (Dh2,418) price tag is worth the cost if it can save a human life.

Similarly, the use of the vest eliminates the need to hospitalise a heatstroke patient, reducing cost.

“All we know is that all heatstroke patients who were treated with CAERvest required no further treatment,” Mr Weinberg said.

Mr Weinberg’s team created the vest by happy accident in the UK.

“We were developing a completely different device for cardiac arrest and we accidentally discovered the treatment for a heat stroke,” he said.

They began producing the product on a small scale in 2013, but after winning Pitch@Palace UK, they expanded their company and now distribute several thousand vests worldwide.

“It is now available at construction sites in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Unites States, Australia and Singapore.”

The vest will soon be introduced to ambulances in Abu Dhabi, as well as among the presidential guard, Mr Weinberg said.

CAERvest has a proven track record and saved its first life at the London Marathon in 2015.

“A patient collapsed with body temperature of 42.1°C — fatal — and we cooled him to safe 37°C in just over half an hour, and he made a full recovery,” said Mr Weinberg.

The CAERvest was tested further during Hajj when employed by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health.

Dr Al Sakaf said the vest was easy to use and required less upkeep than other cooling devices he had come across which he said were merely a set of “ice cubes packed in different ways”.

“It is my vision to make CAERvest available to all health and safety operatives in the GCC to ensure maximum protection of workers, soldiers, police and civil defence personnel who work outside in the extreme heat,” Mr Weinberg said, who was in the UAE this week to mentor prospective entrepreneurs taking part in the UAE’s Pitch@Palace boot camp in Abu Dhabi.

On Wednesday, the competition’s founder Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, announced three winners who will take their ideas to London in December to make their pitches before Queen Elizabeth.