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Israeli Firm Offers Quick Exits from High-Rises

SkySaverA backpack fitted with up to 260 feet of cable and able to automatically lower its wearer down the side of a building could become must-have gear for troops training for urban combat.

Or, for that matter, anyone who wants a “personal rescue device” as an alternative means for exiting a high-rise in the event of a fire or terrorist attack, according to Lou Krupkin, executive director and anti-terrorism adviser at SkySaverUSA, an Israeli company with an office in New York City.

“Every time I go to a police expo or a counter-terrorism conference I talk about [SkySaver] and everybody from government contractors to the military asks me about it,” said Lou Krupkin, executive director and anti-terrorism adviser at SkySaverUSA, an Israeli company based in New York City,

Often what they talk about are scenarios such as the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, where terrorists attacked several locations, including two hotels and a Jewish center, killing more than 160 people before the violence ended after four days.

Many people in the hotels were unable to leave because gunmen were in control of the exits

“You open the door – there’s shooting going on,” Krupkin said. “The only other way out ... similar to a fire, is out the window or the balcony.” The SkySaver goes on like a backpack. Once a fire-resistant cable is attached to a secure point the wearer can go over the side. The descent is automatic, steady at about 2 meters per second and even leaves the wearer’s hands free.

The packs are also marketed to consumers. One that allows for up to a 160 foot descent sells for $499. The other, with up to 260 feet of cable, costs $849.

Krupkin said the company plans to tweak the design to include a pocket where an armor plate can be inserted, helping to insure a round or piece of shrapnel does not interfere with the system. He said Marine officials with whom he has met have shown a great interest in device, and he will be down at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in September to show the SkySaver.

SkySaverUSA became a member of the National Defense Industrial Association, made of defense companies, in 2013. In Israel, where the current generation of packs is being manufactured, the SkySaver was among the top 18 life-saving innovations featured by ISRAEL21c, an online magazine that promotes Israeli technology in the 21st century.

Krupkin said the company has plans to make the devices in the U.S., as well as Israel.

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