The Bavarian Red Cross (BRK) comprises approximately 130,000 volunteers (Source: BRK as at 2011). Just one of these is Dr Florian Kühnlein, who has also served as Head of Product Development for SBU Eyewear/Head at uvex safety group for three years. Protecting people is not only part of his daily work, but also a pastime and a matter of pride – and interestingly, PPE acts as a bridge between his career and his hobby.

Organisations such as the Red Cross rely on people getting involved, financial support and donations. The rapid response team at the Fürth unit o the BRK is one recipient of such donations: The unit’s vehicles are no longer equipped with heavy aluminium helmets and scratched visors, but rather with modern, lightweight and ergonomic uvex pheos alpine safety helmets. The campaign was initiated by Dr Florian Kühnlein, who is part of the response team himself and therefore has first-hand experience of the needs and problems posed by poorly fitting PPE: “When attending a major road accident, a helmet must be worn for your own protection. The pressure of such situations is already considerable – cumbersome PPE only serves to make it even more difficult to work”. Dr Kühnlein knows exactly what he’s talking about – after all, as Head of Product Development he is responsible for improving protective headwear in terms of its safety, ergonomics and fit.

Dr Kühnlein joined the Red Cross after taking his Abitur (roughly equivalent to ‘A’ levels), initially as a driver for blood reserves, before training as a rescue worker and joining the rapid response team. For Florian, protecting people has really become a 24/7 job: “uvex’s commitment to ‘protecting people’ is at the forefront of my daily work when developing new products. Nearly every day, we ask ourselves whether what we have developed will really help to protect individuals – and how we could perhaps improve it”. And in his voluntary work, Dr. Kühnlein has an even more direct impact on protecting people.

Versatile head protection, "made in uvex"

Conceived as a helmet for use at high altitudes – such as by mountain rescue teams – the uvex pheos alpine also conforms with the standard for industrial protection helmets, meaning it is a truly versatile all-rounder. The Bavarian Red Cross mainly uses its new helmets when rescuing those injured in road traffic accidents or house fires. This represents a new challenge for the helmet – and a new opportunity for uvex. Dr Kühnlein comments: “One of the reasons that we donated the helmets is to gain feedback regarding its use in practical situations, which will allows us to further improve our product. I am regularly out and about in the ambulance and can tell you from experience that the entire rapid response team is more comfortable than with the previous equipment, tires less quickly and can concentrate better on their duties”.

Of course, the helmet system was subject to extensive testing for these new purposes. Early on in the development stage, Dr Kühnlein realised that the uvex pheos seemed ideally suited for the emergency services. So he took along a helmet to a crisis simulation exercise. His colleagues in the emergency services were quickly impressed: “I convinced them all of the entire system’s light weight, unique capability and exceptional comfort, and the Bavarian Red Cross were soon won over to buy exactly these helmets for use in crisis situations”.

Available around the clock - even during working hours

As an employer, uvex openly supports those staff who, even in their private life, hold the company’s founding principles so close. When asked how he managed to fit in voluntary service with his career, Dr Kühnlein responds: “I carry out my voluntary duties for the standard ambulance service in my free time, generally working weekend shifts, most regularly at night”. However, that isn’t flexible enough for the rapid response service. As is the case for the fire brigade, the rapid response team, which is generally called to major incidents, needs to man its ambulances within 20 minutes of receiving a telephone alert. “When an alert comes, uvex has granted me permission to go out on a job. Obviously, I will only do this after considering the type of incident and any meetings I have at work, as I need to be able to justify my absence from the office”. Now that it equips the Bavarian Red Cross, uvex can be sure that Dr Kühnlein will return safe and sound to the workplace.

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