You might know Skedco for its medical and rescue products. But Skedco owner Bud Calkin says his passion is military.
“My primary goal in life is to save GI lives. That’s what I live for,” says Calkin. “It’s extremely important to me, because the American soldier is the greatest treasure of America; they save lives and they keep us free.”
And just as soldiers save lives, so do EMS providers. That’s one of the reasons Skedco’s products, which are popular in the military, have also been successful in EMS agencies around the country.
“We train civilians and the military,” says Calkin, adding that the need and application for many of the Skedco rescue products are the same for street providers as they are for the military, “except not having people shooting at you.”
Evolution of Products
Skedco started offering its first product, the Sked Stretcher, 30 years ago. The next product which they redesigned and added to their lineup was the Oregon Spine Splint, as well as flotation devices that could be attached and used for water rescues.
Calkin says his company, which he runs with wife Catherine, has had several product variations over its 30-year history, including a half-Sked that allows providers to bend the immobilized patient at the hips, providing better maneuverability around tight corners.
Other variations include a hazmat version for terrorist events that has no grommets, different straps and offers new, quick-release buckles that cut application time by two thirds or more. The latter, he says, is imperative for military tactical and hazmat/evacuation use.
“All of the Army stretchers will have that feature within the next six months,” he says, adding that the quick-release buckle is an option available as special order on the civilian side because of its added expense.
On the civilian EMS side, the Skedco stretcher and Oregon Spine Splint are designed for immobilization of patients in confined spaces, allowing an immobilized 6-foot, 180-lb. patient to fit through an 11-by-15-inch, oval-shaped hole. “No other stretcher will go through there, especially with a patient in it,” Calkin says.
Calkin says the best way for his company to thank customers is by providing free training and equipment to the military. In addition to training civilians, Skedco sent Calkin and up to four other volunteers to Iraq for training this year. They teach soldiers tactical combat casualty care (TCCC), including use of a highly realistic bleeding simulator that their company employee invented and Skedco’s new laryngoscope, which providers to intubate and start IVs in total darkness under night vision.
They always leave equipment behind. “We’ve been pretty blessed. If you can’t give something back, what are we doing here?” Calkin asks, adding that he always tests products before sending them to market, has only had seven reports of damaged products in 30 years and replaced damaged products free of charge.
“My life goes in every product that handles the patient before anyone else is allowed to get in it. If I don’t trust it, then I should not be selling it to you,” says Calkin.
They also name some of their bags after fallen medical providers, which Calkin sees as a way to thank them and the providers’ families for their service and to keep the names alive. “They save lives, and then we have lifesaving equipment that we name after them. The big thing is that the medics who use this equipment know who they are.”
For example, the Cunningham II Tactical Litter Assault Pack is named after Air Force Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham, an Air Force pararescueman who lost his life in Afghanistan while saving 10 lives. Cunningham was also posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross.
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