The Evac+Chair was invented with the specific aim of helping to save the lives of disabled people in an emergency and has earned its place in the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York for doing just that.
Described as a lifeboat for skyscrapers in the Journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America, the first Evac+Chair® was invented and patented by David Egen in the United States back in 1982.
David Egen designed the chair for his wife, who had polio as a child, after she had needed to be evacuated from the 38th floor of a building in Manhattan, New York. He realised the urgent need for a dedicated piece of lifesaving equipment for disabled people to enable them to be easily evacuated from tall buildings. He wanted to develop a hybrid of a cart, stretcher and chair that could go downstairs easily and be controlled by one person.
The Evac+Chair was officially launched in the US at the 1982 Spring conference of the President’s Committee for the Employment of the Handicap and went on to be listed as one of the top 10 Designs of the Decade in the early 1990s in the Industrial Design Society of America magazine.
In 1985, David Egen licensed Weston Hydraulics to develop and distribute the Evac+Chair in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, under its specialist medical division: Paraid. In subsequent years, Evac+Chair International was then set up to manufacture and develop the Evac+Chair as a stand-alone business in Birmingham in the UK where it is still manufactured today.