Nova Scotia

Makers of ring-removal gadget aim to slide into global market

Ring Rescue, a device that was once a Dalhousie University project, was instantly sold out when the company launched in August. Now, the founders have their sights set on the international market.

Dalhousie University project has evolved into company with 5 employees

Dr. Kevin Spencer tests the ring rescue on a patient. He said his emergency department at Dartmouth General Hospital sees at least one patient a week with a ring stuck on their finger. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

It started out as a Dalhousie University project. 

Now, a company selling devices to remove rings stuck on fingers has already moved into a bigger office in Dartmouth, N.S., and is ready to expand in the global market.

Dr. Kevin Spencer and Patrick Hennessey started selling their device, Ring Rescue, in the summer, promoting it as a painless alternative to remove rings instead of cutting them off.

Ring Rescue is a small cuff, similar to a blood pressure monitor, that wraps around a finger. Once it's pumped up, it drains fluid in a matter of minutes, and rings typically slide off.

Hennessey came up with the concept with some classmates at Dalhousie. When Spencer saw their pitch, he quickly got on board to help transform it into a commercial product.

Patrick Hennessey hopes to sell 3,000 Ring Rescue devices next year. He said they've seen significant interest from the medical market so far. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

By the time they launched in August, they were sold out and had a list of back orders.

"It's quite remarkable, seeing this go from an idea to an almost functioning business has been huge," said Hennessey.

The devices sell in Canada for $369. He said they've sold about 350 since August, and the demand drove them to move to a bigger office where they can now assemble about 40 kits a day.

"We've been pleasantly surprised, particularly in the medical market," said Hennessey. "There seems to be a huge uptake for hospitals in particular."

Spencer knows first hand how useful the device is on the job. He works in the emergency department at Dartmouth General Hospital, where he said he sees at least one stuck ring a week.

The rings have to be removed in emergency situations, or if a patient is heading into surgery.

After a successful launch, the founders of Ring Rescue have moved to a new space, where they can assemble about 40 kits a day. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Since CBC News first reported on their invention, Spencer said they've had a number of people show up at the hospital specifically to get their rings off.

One woman from British Columbia sought him out while she was on vacation in Nova Scotia.

"Sure enough, we took her ring off. She was thrilled."

Spencer said the device has about an 80 per cent success rate in removing rings. It doesn't work in some cases where people have severe arthritis, or their bones are bigger than the ring. In those cases, he said Ring Rescue helps create space so a cutter can be used.

The team has spent the fall travelling to medical trade shows, demonstrating their easy-to-use device in front of physicians in the United States and Germany.

"We actually had people coming up to our booth, emergency physicians and people from the industry with legitimate stuck rings that have been on there for years," said Spencer.

'Need all over the place'

In 2020, they're banking on international sales to boost the business. They've signed on with distributors in the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea, and are considering going to a trade show in Dubai at the end of January.

While most of their sales so far have been to people in the medical field, they have high hopes for sales in the jewelry industry as well.

"There's a need all over the place," said Spencer. "We'd love to get our product to all those sites."

Hennessey said if they can sell 3,000 Ring Rescue kits next year, he'll consider that a success.

"It's been an amazing amount of work."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca

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