What is the Fortrus?
The Fortrus is a collapsible rescue litter designed by a group of 15 students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a semester-long project for the product design course 2.009. For this course, groups of students are tasked with designing and developing a functioning prototype within a single semester that addressed the central theme. The theme for the course this year was "Emergency!," and so the Fortrus was developed to aid in low-angle mountain rescue. Valuable input from members of the mountain rescue community and advisors from the mechanical engineering community were crucial to the success of this project.
The aim of the Fortrus was to make it more convenient for mountain rescue groups to carry the rescue litter in rocky terrain and reach the injured much more quickly than with a conventional litter. The entire structure folds as a whole to become a compact box-shaped component that can be easily strapped to existing mountain rescue gear, making it much easier to carry the litter through densely wooded terrain or narrow passageways.
The truss design on the sides allows for the use of much thinner piping in the structure's construction, which decreases the overall weight of the litter substantially. While more testing and redesigns need to be done in the future, limited field testing has shown that the Fortrus can reliably be used as a standard litter in the majority of low-angle mountain rescue scenarios.