The Wheelchair Evacuator and Evacuator Compact are two revolutionary new products having a huge impact on the lives of wheelchair users and wheelchair operators alike. Both products belong to RGL Innovations Limited, owned and operated by Scott Gilbert, Jay Gilbert and Martin Bailey-Stead. Click through the tabs below to discover how the products came into existence over the course of many years.
The Evacuator Compact (previously called the Wheelchair Liberator) was first thought of by Malcolm Rhodes as a result of his frustrations at the many challenges wheelchair users and their operators faced on a daily basis. After struggling for years pushing his daughter Michela’s wheelchair over kerbs, gravel, steps and ramps, and suffering aches because of the physical stress it placed on him, he undertook months of research into creating a solution.
His daughter becoming stranded for over two hours in an evacuation situation resulted in him approaching the RGL Innovation team to develop the product further. Working with the National Health and Safety Laboratory, an ergonomic, lightweight and portable set of handles were developed to enable the easy evacuation of wheelchair users.
In 2011, whilst working on a project in Latvia, Malcolm was waiting for a flight at Gatwick Airport. As he was passing the time he noticed food being put on board an aircraft, using a van on a lift, in exactly the same way that wheelchair users were boarded on and disembarked off an aircraft. In that moment he realised that the solution to the problem was to find a way to take the wheelchair user down the stairs whilst they remain in their own wheelchair.
From here it was a short step to finding the principle of fixing something to the wheelchair to help take it down stairs. Once home, after a quick trip to B&Q to buy plastic tubes and sticky tape, Malcolm was taking his daughter Michela’s wheelchair up and down the stairs of his home safely, within the hour. The problem was solved.
This was followed by two years of development and prototyping and the product, which needed investment, was then ready for market. In March 2013, Malcolm contacted Jay Gilbert of Gilbert Finance to explain what he had invented and discuss the help he required. Just three hours later they met to talk and after three further hours of discussion Jay was on board. Shortly after that RGL Innovations was formed and the work really began.