SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston native Blair White is bringing his latest safety invention from Florida to West Virginia.
The invention called “Slide to Safety” is meant to be used in emergency evacuations. It was unveiled Friday at the South Charleston Fire Department.
“It’s a life saving device,” said White, founder and CEO of AltEvac. “When I developed and created the idea, it was all to save a life at some point.”
The device attaches to any window up to four-stories tall. When activated, a blow up slide will deploy from the top of the window and expand out to ground level.
“It’s basically an aircraft slide. It’s the same concept,” White said. “It can deploy in about 3-4 seconds. It’s non-electrical and totally reusable, not like an airbag where it’s a one time and done deal.”
South Charleston Fire Chief Virgil White said the city would use the device in emergency-type situations like fires and shootings.
“We have some retirement homes in the city. We have hotels and of course the hospital and high schools, so in the event of an active shooter, they could rapidly deploy this device and students can go out to safety quickly,” he said.
Using the slide would be a more convenient way to escape a building, Chief White said.
“It’s real combersome trying to get people down stairwells and out of the building, so having a device like this makes it much easier and simpler,” he said.
The fire chief said, so far, Thomas Memorial Hospital has expressed interest in implementing the “Slide to Safety” device.
South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens fully supports the idea. He said the goal is to never have to use it.
“You hope you put it on your building and it never implodes and never opens, but it’s nice to know it’s there,” he said.
Mullens said he would love to see the product be used across the city.
“If we could get something like this incorporated to our building codes in new construction or existing construction to kind of either replace or add to the traditional fire escape-type situations, I think it will be huge for developers to be able to have an alternative cost scenario to their projects,” he said.
Blair White said the goal is to bring the device to other West Virginia cities to keep people safe.
“I think West Virginia can really be a leader in something cool like this and be the first to implement a life saving device like this,” he said.