There is always a lot of news and excitement anytime a new life-saving product is invented. That’s why we sometimes forget that there are already a host of life saving technologies that surround us that contribute to our record lifespans. Most of these technologies are still the technologies of the future in spite of the fact that they aren’t nano-robots. Here are some of the most amazing and awe-inspiring, albeit run-of-the-mill, technologies that save lives every day.
Satellite telephones, believe it or not, are responsible for saving lives all over the world. They are used in a wide variety of life-threatening situations in which infrastructure is non-existent either because it’s been damaged or is simply too far away. Whether it’s someone in the Grand Canyon that needs a med-evac for a snake bite or someone with a broken leg in the Outback who can’t make it back to a ranger station, a single phone call means the difference between life and death.
There is no doubt that pace makers are some of the most valuable pieces of technology that exist today. Unlike most of the other’s on this list, a pace maker not only saves a life at a moment of extreme peril for an individual but continues to keep death at bay 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Anyone who has a pacemaker can tell you it’s one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.
We don’t commonly think of GPS as a lifesaving technology because it has become dramatically more common in cars and daily urban navigation than in the environment that originally brought it to prominence: the outdoors. When wandering in the backwoods somewhere, with or without a map and compass, it’s incredibly helpful to have a piece of technology that can find your precise location and tell you how to get back to camp. A night in the woods, facing the elements without the equipment at camp is rarely a good situation.
Ever since the discovery of germs we’ve been perfecting the art of water purification. Boiling, iodine tabs, and other purifiers have made life much safer and easier than it ever was before. Being on the move and running low on water is dangerous because it can induce heat stroke, which was responsible for an average of 618 deaths per year, according to the CDC, between 1999 and 2010.
Seat Belt Reminders
Yes, that annoying beeping sound saves lives. Although it’s impossible to measure the statistics of something like this, it’s easy to create a hypothetical in which someone is reminded by their vehicle to buckle up only to be saved by their belt during a collision. The best part about this piece of life-saving technology is perhaps that it’s not only ubiquitous in new cars but that it’s one of the simplest on here. There is no need for satellites orbiting the planet or invasive surgery into one of the major organs. There is no need to grow a culture of bacteria or viruses to create antibodies or directly treat infection. It is simply a mildly agitating reminder to do the right thing.
Penicillin — And It’s Mass Production
Perhaps the single most life-saving piece of technology ever to be invented, penicillin was the first antibiotic medicine available to humankind. The mass production of penicillin in the United States is largely due to World War II. This was largely due to its effectiveness in suppressing the staphylococcus bacteria from taking hold in skin grafts given to survivors of Boston’s Cocoanut Grove Fire in November of 1942. By the invasion of Normandy over 2.3 million doses were produced. Since then penicillin has been diversified to include a wide variety of antibiotics that are all variations on this, the original antibiotic.
Vaccines are responsible for saving the lives of millions of people — before they even get sick. The occurrence rate for diseases such as tetanus, mumps, rubella, tuberculosis, and measles are astonishing compared to the prevalence that these diseases saw even a hundred years ago. In 1918 there was a flu pandemic that killed 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population, which is unheard of now. The modern vaccine has made disease infection nominal compared to what it once was, which has in turn increased lifespans dramatically.
Among other reasons that the telephone is an incredible invention, such as the ability to easily and directly conduct business and keep in touch with loved ones, the telephone is an incredible tool when it comes to getting emergency assistance in a pinch. Not only can emergency responders receive notice of your need but they can pinpoint your location and arrive on site even if you don’t give it to them. Talk about a life-saver.
Life is deadly. This is especially true for anyone whose hobbies include outdoor activities. If you’re taking a trip up the Amazon, rafting the Grand Canyon, or taking a wilderness trek across Asia it would be a good idea to learn about renting satellite phones to make the trip a little more insurance-friendly, if nothing else.
Written by Steve Manley