Christopher Fuhrhop
2016, Germany
With a buoyancy aid that self-inflates in an emergency, this Karlsruhe resident has developed a completely new rescue system for water sports

"It is a silent topic that nobody really talks about," says Christopher Fuhrhop, in reference to the risk of drowning. "But if you ask around a bit, then actually, anyone who is regularly on or in the water has at one time or another experienced a dangerous situation." The entrepreneur knows what he is talking about: while kitesurfing a few years ago, he was drawn in by a strong undertow and had to swim back to shore. "In between, I thought perhaps I won't make it." This triggered the idea of ​​a rescue system for water sports that does not interfere in the practice of water sports.

Anyone who likes to go swimming in the sea, or to surf, canoe or kayak, knows that a life jacket limits the user's freedom of movement. Therefore, it usually remains ashore. Fuhrhop wanted to design a small and handy rescue system which self-inflates like an airbag in an emergency. During his undergraduate thesis at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany), he was given the opportunity to implement it. The resulting Restube (a wordplay based on the terms "rescue" and "tube") has enough buoyancy to keep the user´s head above water. "There is no substitute for a life jacket, but it allows [the user] to rest, and that can make a decisive difference." The idea convinced the Swiss Lifeguards (SLRG). They want to put it to use in the rescuing of others and for their own safety, and are collaborating in furthering the development of the system. Fuhrhop has also formed alliances with corporations which organize water sports events, where the use of Restube is mandatory. "We know already of more than 20 people whose lives have been saved by Restube."

Text in German from its original source: MIT Technology Review German edition