CEO Caleb Carr interviews with EMS World
any U.S. companies have pledged assistance in support of Ukraine’s war efforts, but only one company’s CEO made it a personal mission to hand-deliver MEDEVAC technology.
Vita Inclinata CEO Caleb Carr’s plan was simple in theory but complex in execution. He wanted to get his Vita Rescue System (VRS) safely into Ukraine and in the hands of search and rescue (SAR) crews conducting high-risk evacuation missions. After numerous gun-point searches at roadside checkpoints and Russian jets patrolling the airspace, the VRS training was completed.
Many publications have covered the heroic journey and chronicled Carr’s passion for saving lives. Among the best reporting is from Carol Brzozowski, who writes for EMS World. Titled “US Company’s Medevac Advance Helps the Wounded in Ukraine.” Carol takes an in-depth look at VRS training within the war zone and uncovers what gives Carr the “right stuff” to seize this opportunity.
Read Carol Brzozowski’s full article below to immerse yourself in a mission few people are willing to undertake.
US Company’s Medevac Advance Helps the Wounded in Ukraine
Less than 2 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, Caleb Carr, CEO of a Colorado company called Vita Inclinata, was contacted by the Ukrainian government.
Would he be willing to hand-deliver his company’s new medevac technology to Ukrainian aviation personnel in an active war zone so they could be trained on how to evacuate wounded civilians in minutes from bombed-out urban areas?
Carr—upset by the images he saw from the war-torn areas of Ukraine—did not hesitate to help a country which until that point had no medevac capabilities. His company’s mission is to deploy products that will “bring them home every time.”
Vita Inclinata’s Vita Rescue System (VRS) is a medevac technology that senses if a basket being airlifted under a helicopter containing a wounded person is about to start spinning out of control.
The cutting-edge technology uses mini thrusters—tiny jet engines—that sense improper basket movement and apply counterrotation thrust to prevent any spinning motion and keep the basket stable.
Vita technology enables the injured to be rapidly extracted to hospitals or other safe zones.
Carr realized his company’s new technology would give the war effort much-needed rapid-extraction capabilities, enabling rescue workers to safely airlift casualties from active war zones in minutes to get to hospitals or rapidly relocate.
In partnership with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the country’s federal emergency management organization, Vita Inclinata donated a VRS valued at approximately $500,000 to assist the Ukrainian army with medevac operations.
In mid-April, with the support of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs and State Emergency Service of Ukraine and accompanied by coworker Scott Slack, Carr loaded the VRS system into a car and proceeded from Poland to cross the border into Ukraine, then traveled on to Uzhhorod from Lviv.
Logistics were the biggest challenge, says Carr.
“Trying to get gear into Ukraine is both problematic and complicated due to the geopolitical climate,” he says. “Moreover, trying to drive a rental car across the border with $500,000 worth of gear raised a lot of questions.
“There were 7 individual instances where we were held up by the military, border agents, or bombing raids. We drove through the night, slept on couches, and eventually made it to the airfield to complete the training.”
Carr says there were 2 crews of 5 in the training, all of whom were in emergency service.
Addressing the crews’ adjustment to the training, Carr notes, “within 3 hours we took a crew that had never done a medevac before, and they were confident to be able to deploy the capability.
“The crew did not know how to complete a medevac [coming in], didn’t know all the problems of using a tagline and the complexities that come with it,” he adds. “Thus, we were able to complete the training of a standard mission leveraging the Vita Rescue System without having to work through all legacy training.”
Training the Ukrainian medevac crews took place approximately 20 miles from active bombing in eastern Ukraine and in contested airspace. Russian jets patrolled the area as the system was readied for combat.
Upon conclusion of the training, the Ukrainian Special Aviation Unit crews received new, American-made medevac rescue technology that can airlift wounded from urban areas in 2 mins instead of the 20 it typically takes.
Due to this engagement, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine has formally requested 30 VRS systems to help ensure the functioning of their fire and rescue units.
4 in the Time of 1
Carr started his career as a volunteer search and rescue tech for Multnomah County Search and Rescue in Oregon.
It was the death of a friend in a rescue operation during which a helicopter was close but unable to stabilize due to weather and terrain that led to the creation of Vita Inclinata in 2015—and subsequently the VRS.
The Vita Rescue System litter attachment is a lightweight quick-attach unit compatible with a variety of rescue kits, such as Skedco, Stokes, and others.
It enables helicopter crews greater speed, safety, and control on hoisting operations, allowing them to complete hoists 4 times faster than traditional taglines.
The wireless pendant can control the litter from up to 1000 feet away, allowing the user to stabilize the litter without relying on ground crews or taglines. The pendant comes with a MOLLE kit for universal utility.
The VRS autonomously stabilizes rescue hoist spin and swing, accounting for rotor wash, high winds, and other environmental conditions.
Among the benefits it offers is controlling the litter without taglines or ground crews and stabilizing the litter while dynamically hoisting, reducing hover time and pilot fatigue. It is maintenance-free aside from daily preparations.
The swing-stabilization feature acts as an active swing-dampening solution. Typical swing stabilization for an empty rescue kit is 1.5 swing periods. Stabilization is based on cable weight, patient weight, and environmental disturbances. Spin stabilization is under 3 secs.
The control pendant communications are ISM 915 MHz, and the control pendant range is up to 1000 feet. Pendant command response time is under 100 ms.
The system weighs 58 lbs. The rechargeable lithium iron phosphate battery provides 4.8 amp-hours with a charge time of less than 35 mins. Batteries are cold-swappable.
The system provides up to 90 mins of live hook time on a single charge, depending on patient weight, helicopter motion, winds, and other environmental impacts.
With interest from the US Army and state search and rescue teams, Vita Inclinata began producing the VRS for military and civilian medevac rescue missions. The US Army validated that the VRS can save 4 lives in the time it used to take to save 1.
Seize the Opportunity
Noting Vita Inclinata’s mission is to provide technology that saves lives, Carr says he engaged in the mission not only to aid Ukraine but also in the hope of inspiring other company leaders and the US defense industry to act to provide Ukraine with more medical, protective, and rescue equipment.
“If we can insert technology in Ukraine to help win this fight and save civilians’ lives, let’s do it,” he says. “There’s a lot of bureaucracy involved, but you need to seize the opportunity and run with it. That’s exactly what Vita is doing and how we executed our mission to Ukraine.”
At the end of his mission, Carr says he felt it “was the honor of my life to travel to Ukraine and deploy the system the Vita team has been working tirelessly on for years.
“After making it through bombing raids, police standoffs, Russian jets, and tens of military checkpoints, we were able to watch as the Vita Rescue System enabled a crew who never knew how to conduct a medevac operation to do so,” he points out.
Carr notes the technology is actively being deployed in the US civilian market.
“(Montana-based) Two Bear Air Rescue actively is deploying the capability, and many local and federal agencies are working through the process for deployment as well,” he says. “It is Vita’s hope that we can expand the operational capabilities of rescue helicopters to save lives in more complex situations in the years to come.”