Transformable emergency shelters invented by Okotoks family

A family of inventors in Okotoks has created what they say is a faster and better way to get aid to disaster situations.

Shipping containers unfold into whatever shape and size is needed

A family of inventors in Okotoks has created a new structure to be used in emergencies. Danielle Nerman reports. 2:17

A family of inventors in Okotoks has created what they say is a faster and better way to get aid to disaster situations.

Malcolm Duncan and his two sons at Excalibur Research and Development came up with a way to convert shipping containers into emergency shelters.

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The Transformable Mobile Containment System (TMCS) is a conventional container that unfolds — expanding five to 11 times its transportation size.

When it arrives on site its hydraulic self-lifting system hoists it off the back of a flat-bed truck and puts it on the ground.

The shelters take less than an hour to be configured into a range of shapes and sizes with a tent-like roof and a generator for heat and lighting.

"You don't need a crane on site … so the remote areas that we can deploy this in, it's endless,” Duncan said.

The Red Cross has already shown some interest in the invention.

"You could take it into a disaster area like a cyclone, like a tornado. If you know it's coming, this thing can withstand winds 400 to 500 kilometres an hour,” he said.

Dr. Grant Hill said he wishes he had had one when he was treating flood victims from High River last June.

The  Okotoks Health and Wellness Centre where he works got slammed and needed more space to treat patients.

"The people had to go far away to Claresholm for things like stitches. We could have done that right in High River,” he said.

The prototype for the invention was only just completed when the flood disaster happened.

"We had no idea that this one-in-100 or one-in-200 year event would take place,” Malcolm said.

But the family promises to be ready should their neighbours in High River need them again.

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