Innovating to protect military and emergency services personnel

Innovating to protect military and emergency services personnel

Design School alumnus Nicholas Hunter is Senior Design Engineer with Avon Protection, a world leader in the provision of respiratory and ballistic protection equipment for the military and emergency services.

The company has recently developed several new products.

The CH15 - a revolutionary new, ultra-thin, single size portable escape hood that provides a minimum of 15 minutes of respiratory, eye and head protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

Developed in conjunction with The United States of America Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), the CH15 escape hood is specifically designed to be lightweight and compact so it can always be carried allowing it to be immediately available for unexpected circumstances. The single sized device is appropriate for all users in all emergency situations.

Ensuring the necessary protection levels from CBRN threats in a single sized device, whilst driving to ensure the minimum viable size and weight of device was a significant challenge for Nick who was lead design engineer.   Developing the product required novel design approaches and resulted in several patents covering aspects of the product packaging, filter technology, sealing interfaces and manufacturing capability.

The CE approved CH15 compliments Avon Protection’s leading respiratory protection portfolio, adapting proven technology to create their most compact CBRN protection device to date.

Nick comments:

“This project has been the largest challenge of my career so far, but it was hugely satisfying to achieve CE certification in October 2020.  Seeing the product manufactured and being delivered to our customers where it has the potential to improve their operational capabilities and save lives makes all the effort worth it.”

Nick has also worked on a collaborative project to develop a full-face protective helmet, respirator mask and communications system to meet the specific requirements of the German Police.

It was decided to base the product on an existing Avon product platform and what followed was a challenging two-year design and development rollercoaster of failures, breakthroughs and success. Extensive prototypes, trials and user testing went in to achieving the required capability and functionality.

From this project the HM50 was born - one respirator mask with two operational modes. In standalone mode the HM50 provides full respiratory protection from Chemical Biological Radioactive and Nuclear (CBRN) threats. By a simple exchange of the head harness for the helmet connecting straps, the HM50 mask converts to a helmet (HMK150) for use in non-CBRN environments. The full-face respirator is connected to the helmet in seconds, as there is no need for the helmet to be removed. Protection is seamless. The product is the first of its kind in the world approved to the German Police institute Technical Directive for a Modular System Protective Helmet, Communication System, Respirator Mask.