Modelling of inflatable rescue boats (IRBs) in surf conditions to reduce injuries

Ludcke, Justin A (2001) Modelling of inflatable rescue boats (IRBs) in surf conditions to reduce injuries. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

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The Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) is arguably the most effective rescue tool used by the Australian surf lifesavers. The exceptional features of high mobility and rapid response have enabled it to become an icon on Australia's popular beaches. However, the IRB's extensive use within an environment that is as rugged as it is spectacular, has led it to become a danger to those who risk their lives to save others.

Epidemiological research revealed lower limb injuries to be predominant, particularly the right leg. The common types of injuries were fractures and dislocations, as well as muscle or ligament strains and tears. The concern expressed by Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) and Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) led to a biomechanical investigation into this unique and relatively unresearched field. The aim of the research was to identify the causes of injury and propose processes that may reduce the instances and severity of injury to surf lifesavers during IRB operation.

Following a review of related research, a design analysis of the craft was undertaken as an introduction to the craft, its design and uses. The mechanical characteristics of the vessel were then evaluated and the accelerations applied to the crew in the IRB were established through field tests. The data were then combined and modelled in the 3-D mathematical modelling and simulation package, MADYMO. A tool was created to compare various scenarios of boat design and methods of operation to determine possible mechanisms to reduce injuries.

The results of this study showed that under simulated wave loading the boats flex around a pivot point determined by the position of the hinge in the floorboard. It was also found that the accelerations experienced by the crew exhibited similar characteristics to road vehicle accidents. Staged simulations indicated the attributes of an optimum foam in terms of thickness and density. Likewise, modelling of the boat and crew produced simulations that predicted realistic crew response to tested variables. Unfortunately, the observed lack of adherence to the SLSA footstrap Standard has impeded successful epidemiological and modelling outcomes. If uniformity of boat setup can be assured then epidemiological studies will be able to highlight the influence of implementing changes to the boat design.

In conclusion, the research provided a tool to successfully link the epidemiology and injury diagnosis to the mechanical engineering design through the use of biomechanics. This was a novel application of the mathematical modelling software MADYMO. Other craft can also be investigated in this manner to provide solutions to the problem identified and therefore reduce risk of injury for the operators.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 36139
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Appendix A available on compact disc only.
Presented to the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing and Medical Engineering and Centre for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, Queensland University of Technology.
Keywords: Inflatable boats Design and construction, Ankle Wounds and injuries, Ankle Mechanical properties, Lifeguards Wounds and injuries, Surf lifesaving (Aquatic sports), Lifeboats Design and construction, ankle, impact biomechanics, inflatable rescue boats (IRB), injuries, modelling, thesis, doctoral
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Justin A Ludcke
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 13:04
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2016 23:45

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