Megan Smith, a member of Faith Christian Reformed Church in Milford, Nova Scotia, and her friend Charlotte Donaldson won top prizes in the Canadian National Science Fair Competition for their aquatic spinal board design.
The girls, both lifeguards, won the Ernest C. Manning Award valued at $500, the Young Canadian Innovation Award valued at $4,000, and a Bronze medal for their age category valued at $300. They competed against more than 500 other projects.
The aquatic rescue board designed by Megan Smith and Charlotte Donaldson.
Their spinal board design improves on the standard spinal board used for aquatic rescues.
While working on their national lifeguarding certification, the girls realized that the conventional spinal rescue board is a “one size fits all” model designed for the average adult. They observed that a smaller person’s head and shoulders could not be properly secured, which could lead to further injury.
Smith said, “We thought it was ridiculous. . . . We wanted a board that any size of victim could have a safe rescue on, especially children.”
Smith and Donaldson modified the standard design by making the straps adjustable up and down the sides of a prototype pine board, to fit the body of whoever needs rescuing. They also added rubber matting to the surface to prevent victims from sliding on the board during transport.
And they added foam spacers to the bottom of the board to minimize the jolt a victim might feel when the board is set down, as well as to protect the fingers of the lifeguards.
The girls have filed for a Canadian patent for their invention.
Smith said, “I get so excited talking about the board that I get all out of breath!”