Protection Against Chemical Exposure (PeACE) Kit
The PeACE Kit is a personal protective kit, to be worn in areas where the threat of chemical warfare is thought to exist. The PeACE kit aims to provide a user with a friendly and convenient way to evacuate and decontaminate a person after potential exposure to a chemical.
Throughout MSF’s history, teams are sometimes confronted with the threat of chemical warfare. This threat presents itself very rarely, and when it does, a great deal of work goes into risk mitigation and contingency plans. One of the contingency plans that exists is a decontamination kit in the form of a backpack, that users carry with them while working in ‘at risk’ areas. These kits are heavy, bulky, and – without repeated training- complicated to use. The backpacks often cause more anxiety than relief, which is the opposite consequence that an item of PPE should produce.
The PeACE kit aims to make a sometimes complicated procedure, as simple and user friendly as possible. The kit is designed to be worn and therefore also always conveniently located. And the kit aims to allow MSF staff to concentrate on their work, rather than worry about a security issue. Careful design and instructions on the inside, mean that the training to use the kit can be largely self taught and refreshed whenever is convenient.
To improve efficiency detailed lean analysis of the processes has been carried out, using techniques often used in the automotive industry. A great deal of work has been done behind the scenes to ensure that the process the kit is based on is as efficient as possible, and still in line with standard operating procedures.
The kit has attracted a broad range of experts for collaboration including: a London based fashion designer, a graphics designer, a world leading toxicologist, a process engineer and European design consultancies. We are looking to collaborate with companies experienced in user testing and PPE in this area, so that we can provide a high level product to MSF for when they think might need it.
The first phase of the project - funded by the Sapling Nursery Fund in London – resulted in a successful proof of concept prototype. The prototype gave the wider MSF community the chance to not only see a feasible solution, but to also gain a better understanding of what it must be like in the field with the current setup.
Phase 2 is about refining and optimising the kit, as well as planning for sustainable and cost effective production. With the use of the first prototype, stakeholders inside outside MSF can engage and collaborate. The key to this phase is to make sure we’re solving the right problem in the right way, and have the right team around us, in order to create a high quality solution on time and on budget.
The final phase of this project brings us back to lean practices and continual improvement. When we have a manufactured product that is appropriate to the projects we currently work in and the current threats, we will review how effective the kits are, and how they could also be relevant to other sections or situations.
Roger Morton (Case Leader) Update - December 2018: “Since the first prototype, there has been a huge amount of excitement and encouragement around this innovation. It has been a fascinating experience to see scepticism at the beginning turn into positive action and encouragement following a tangible result in the form of the first prototype. At the beginning of the summer, people could pick up the kit, and see for themselves that finally there was a solution to a problem that they may not have even known was there before now existed.
Since the Sweden Innovation Unit took the project on in September, we have developed and created the latest prototype, following the feedback from the first. It’s a great privilege to thank those that offered feedback, and who now, can get the chance to say, ‘that little bit was my idea!’
The latest prototype goes back to the initial problem statement, and the simple design of the MSF vest, but it still has those hidden features.
The past 3 weeks have been a rush to finish the prototype in London, get it tested by a toxicologist in Wiltshire, and fly out to Sweden to show the Innovation Unit what we have done.
The success and enthusiasm that now surrounds this innovation, both internally, and externally has been such a sudden surprise, I’m sure the team will only reflect on it in that strange week between Christmas and New Years.
In one year we have achieved what most people would have thought the impossible, but isn’t that what MSF does? However, just like the recognition I have got for this project this year, a considerable amount of this success has to be credited to luck, and even more credit needs to go to the support teams and the experts that have joined along the way.”
The 2019 Case Update
Since Christmas we have moved from one off prototyping in the UK, to batch production in Sweden.
The PeACE Kit was unveiled and demonstrated in London at the 2019 Scientific day is in the final stages of becoming a product on the logistical catalogue of the Amsterdam section of MSF.
It’s with sadness and also great relief that the kit is now finished and handed back to MSF to use and tweak as the security situations change in the world. And it’s the hope that these kits allow field staff to remain safe in the areas where the need of independent, neutral, and impartial medical assistance is needed the most.
About the Inventor: Roger Morton hopes to be matched with another mission with MSF very soon to work day to day as a technical logistics manager, and on return to the UK, continue to innovate with the problems he will inevitably face in the field.
Pictured: Accompanying the vest, is a flight safety style user manual, which shows concise instructions with illustrations, on how to most effectively use the kit.
Operational Centre Amsterdam (OCA), Case Owner
MSF Sweden Innovation Unit, Case Manager
MSF sapling Nursery Fund
Swedish Innovation Unit
Roger Morton, Case Manager, MSF Sweden Innovation Unit