Designed by Bezalel student Idan Raizman, the Ruins Catheter is capsule-like when contracted but has ribs that expand with the help of a balloon. If used on the edge of a collapsed building, it could provide a safe tunnel for survivors to crawl through.

The device could be used especially useful in areas of the world where poor construction leads to building collapses.

Drawings of the expanding Ruins Catheter, sans balloon.

The expanded "catheter."

Like a car airbag, the balloon causes the device to expand.

View without balloon.

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A Device For Saving People Trapped In Collapsed Buildings

Inspired by a medical catheter, Bezalel student Idan Raizberg designs an instrument that expands into a rescue tunnel.

Thanks to stringent construction codes, buildings don’t tend to topple down here in the U.S. But around the world, in places where strong materials and oversight are lacking, it’s a more common—and potentially tragic—event. To rescue survivors who are trapped under the debris, Idan Raizberg, a student at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, has devised a clever instrument that can be slipped into a space within a rubble and expand to form a tunnel.

Called the Ruins Catheter, the concept is based on the type of medical catheter used to enlarge a clogged artery. Raizberg designed the devise as a compact capsule whose metal ribs expand when the airbag inside is inflated. Once locked at its maximum aperture, the tunnel provides enough room for a person to crawl through to safety.

The question, of course, is, will it work? Detractors have stipulated that it could do more harm than good, as it shifts debris and increases the likelihood avalanches. Regardless, it’s an exceptional example of cross-disciplinary problem solving—borrowing an innovation from a seemingly unrelated field and adapting it for another use. And to make light of a very serious issue, if the Ruins Catheter fails to live up to its life-saving role, it could always be used to excavate the sad sacks featured on Hoarders.

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  • Nathanael Boehm

    That looks awesome. As someone who survived the 22 February earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand, I have a particular interest in being able to escape collapsed buildings and I want to see this concept progressed and field-tested.