Collapsible stretchers from the 1950s
In 1958, a Red Cross worker carrying out a first-aid exercise has to transport a stretcher two metres in length in an ordinary car. He turned to the village’s most skilful blacksmith, Toivo Vuorenoja, who manufactures bicycles, swings and chairs. Toivo and his sons, Eero and Timo, took up the challenge. They came up with the idea of splitting the stretcher in half by placing hinges in the middle, resulting in the first collapsible stretcher. No such stretchers were readily available anywhere in the world.
The world’s first steel stretchers in the 1970s
Toivo’s sons are drawn to manufacturing ambulance products when they notice that there is plenty of room for improvement to make patient transportation more efficient. The brothers want to find a better material than aluminium, leading them to develop the world’s first steel stretcher. The stretcher for a new age conquers the Finnish market immediately. The Finnish Red Cross wants exclusive rights to Pensi’s stretcher at the end of the 1970s.
Growth in international demand in the 1980s
In the 1980s, Finland’s borders begin to feel restrictive. At the same time, the Vuorenoja brothers’ innovative solutions begin to arouse international interest. Exports to the Soviet Union begin in 1985: enough products are supplied for around 700 ambulances. The company enters the Swedish market in 1991.
Light composite stretchers – a world first
Product development never stops: the decision was taken in the early 1990s to look for an even better stretcher material than steel. At the same time, the Pensi brand was created as an abbreviation of the Finnish words “pehmeä ensiapu”, meaning “soft values in paramedic care”. The new brand incorporates a pledge that competitors still cannot imitate – Pensi’s products will always be recognised for their unique, innovative solutions.
The vision of “soft values in paramedic care” steers product development: the aim is to make patient transportation as easy and effortless as possible. A stretcher material is identified – a lightweight composite containing fibreglass – another world first. In the 2010s, competitors’ stretchers continue to be made mostly out of metal.
Multifunctional stretchers revolutionise the entire industry
The research and development goals are ambitious: we now want to change the entire patient transportation process. In 1992, a completely new, multifunctional stretcher is launched. The same Pensi stretcher can also be used as a chair and as a treatment unit – unlike any other product in the world. The overarching idea is that patients no longer need to be carried because the stretcher has wheels.
The composite structure makes the Pensi multifunctional stretcher light and easier to manoeuvre than ordinary stretchers. Although the stretcher can also be used as a chair, it does not take up any more space than a traditional stretcher. It is hugely popular: in only a few years, more than half of Finland’s ambulances began using Pensi’s stretcher.
Electrically assisted loading – a world first
Next, Pensi set about addressing the most challenging feature of patient transportation: loading patients into vehicles without lifting and using physical force. Pensi develops the world’s first electrically assisted loading device, enabling even heavy patients to be loaded into vehicles by one person without requiring force. The innovative balance mechanism is unique and receives patent protection.
Electrically assisted loading brings unprecedented occupational safety to patient loading: it is no longer possible to lift the patient incorrectly. As Pensi aims to facilitate safe and ergonomic descent of stairs, an innovative accessory is developed for multifunctional stretchers – the stair cylinder. It enables one person to transport a patient weighing up to 100kg down stairs.
Pensi’s international popularity is growing
Pensi’s multifunctional solutions begin to attract worldwide interest. It is not long before Pensi’s innovative solutions are being used in several countries. Continuous investment in research and development is a guarantee that Pensi’s products will continue to offer the lightest, most durable solutions for patient transportation.
FI-38250 Sastamala, FINLAND
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