By Andrew Liszewski
Created by Kevin Stone, an orthopedic surgeon and inventor, the Rescue Reel provides a better way for upper-floor residents or workers to escape a high-rise building in an emergency. The device is based on a fishing reel of all things, though the Rescue Reel improves on that design with an automatic centrifugal braking system that controls the rate of descent. And in the event that fails, there’s also a manual braking lever as a backup.
Now the most important feature on any emergency escape system is how easy it is to use, and the Rescue Reel only requires the user to hook a Kevlar cord onto a secure object and then climb into a one-size-fits-all harness before they start to rappel through an open window. No mountain climbing training is needed, and descending from 100 stories takes less than 4 minutes. The first working prototypes of the Rescue Reel were tested back in 2007, and a commercial ready version should be available next year for about $1,500, with that price dropping once it becomes mass-produced.