Beach-Buggy Solutions for Lifeguards and More
Firefighter and Race-Car Designer Combine Forces to Develop Cobra Rescue Litter
I may have found the ultimate rescue transport for beachgoers who happen to encounter a bat ray or stingray in the mouth of the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve. Those elegant-looking bottom-feeders sure love the ebb and flow of the tide. They shimmy beneath soft muddy sand, fluctuating between the salt marsh and the ocean, but so do unsuspecting beach walkers who unknowingly tread into their gritty aquatic territory.
A strike by a ray can bring a grown man to his knees, and transporting injured folks from the mouth of the marsh to the lifeguard tower for the scalding yet effective hot-water treatment usually means a half-mile hobble for a lifeguard with an agonizing victim slung over their shoulder.
But not anymore with the Cobra Rescue Litter. With a sturdy, lightweight, stainless-steel frame, its durable basket lets victims lie down and relax while being transported down the beach. The large caster wheels make an enormous difference for those of us who cart victims through soft sand or over cobblestones, and also help keep sand out of the wound.
The Cobra Litter is the brainchild of retired Santa Barbara County firefighter Michael Schlags and New Zealand–born race car designer Ron Butler, who’s spent countless hours working on the Ford Shelby Cobra. With Schlags’s real-world rescue insight, Butler brought years of engineering expertise and knowledge to develop this ergonomically excellent device, which can be pulled by hand or towed by an ATV or other vehicle and maneuvered through tight spaces on a crowded beach. It’s aimed at all sorts of rescue situations, but it also works for moving firefighting or any heavy equipment over rough grounds. Expect to see it on more beaches near you.