By Kristy Dorsey

Scottish outdoor clothing specialist Keela has partnered with the NHS to develop what has been described as a “ground-breaking” CPR device to reduce the risk of infection from bacteria and viruses such as Covid-19.

Together with NHS Tayside and Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL), the protective clothing specialist has created a piece of equipment that uses transparent fabric to create a barrier between a patient and the individual providing resuscitation. Known SARUS-CPR, an acronym of “safer airway resuscitation”, the hood can be easily fitted by trained CPR responders over the head of a collapsed patient.

With prototypes now in testing, developers are in the final stages of obtaining PPE certification. The kit is expected to be available across the UK later this year.

“What we are also thinking is that it is a great export concept, as it is quite a low-cost item, and easy to replicate,” said Sam Fernando, sales director of family-owned Keela. “One thing that we are talking about possibly doing is using open source to make it available in that way to developing countries.”

HeraldScotland: Sam Fernando of Keela OutdoorSam Fernando of Keela Outdoor

The device is the brainchild of Professor Peter Stonebridge, medical director of NHS Tayside, who came up with the idea soon after the onset of the pandemic. Working with Keela – which makes protective and performance clothing for the police, fire, medical, military and outdoor services – they came up with a design that not only makes resuscitation safer for patients and personnel, but also reduces the time to initiate airway ventilation.

“It has been a really nice collaboration between people who would not normally speak to each other,” Ms Fernando said. “From our perspective, we are just looking to see where this goes to.”

Professor Stonebridge said frontline healthcare workers have been “absolutely vital” in the response to the pandemic. Amid all the challenges of managing the spikes of Covid-19, there has been a great deal of innovation in health care.

“Thanks to the input of other experts in manufacturing and design, the kernel of an idea has been developed into the SARUS-CPR hood and I am very grateful to all the collaborators on this project.”

READ MORE: Monday Interview: You’ve probably seen our jackets on TV, but you’re not likely to realise that they’re ours

Based in Glenrothes, Keela has been designing and developing outdoor clothing since the brand was established in 1989 as a sister company to the family’s Ardmel business. It turns out approximately 165,000 pieces from its UK base, which took on 50 additional staff last year after the business started producing surgical gowns for the NHS.

“During the first lockdown that was good because it meant we were able to keep going and also feel like we are contributing to the war effort,” Ms Fernando said. “It has added another area to our business that we would potentially have never looked at before.”

SHIL works in partnership with NHS Scotland to identify and commercialise healthcare innovations to improve patient care. Formed in 2002, its shareholders include NHS Tayside, the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, and the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office.

READ MORE: Scottish outdoor clothing firm Keela launches 'self-sanitising', anti-viral range amid coronavirus pandemic

“The SARUS-CPR hood is a real testament to home-grown collaborative expertise, taking clinician-led insight from the NHS and turning it into a tangible device that’s now ready to be launched onto the market,” said Robert Rea, head of innovation at SHIL.

“The team at NHS Tayside and Keela have played a vital role in realising that ambition. Their clinical and manufacturing expertise combined with SHIL’s intellectual property and commercialisation expertise has accelerated launch onto the market.”

Rod Mountain, clinical lead on the project for NHS Tayside, added: “This has been a genuine collaborative effort between NHS Tayside and Keela, drawing upon fantastic local engineering and garment manufacturing expertise. Covid-19 drove the innovation, prompting us to look at different approaches to PPE, but we now believe its applications go well beyond the current pandemic.”