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What humanitarian need is being addressed?

The emergency wheelchair response meets a need not currently met by any other organisation or body. It includes a wheelchair which, in contrast to the majority of orthopaedic wheelchairs that are donated in emergencies, is highly suitable for an emergency context and environment. The unique design of the wheelchair makes it compact, easily transportable, adjustable, suitable for difficult and/or rough terrain, and available at an affordable cost to enable organisations to reach the maximum number of people during an emergency. It is quick and easy to assemble, using hand tools provided, and designed for rapid implementation. Further, its bright orange frame increases visibility of disabled people – vital to increase reach in an emergency. The field support package of tools and training, which accompanies the emergency wheelchair, contains guidance on setting up an emergency wheelchair service including clinical, mobility and storage areas; clinical information; a fitting form and user training instructions, and guidance for the user, including health and mobility information and wheelchair maintenance. The package of tools ensures efficient and high quality roll-out of wheelchair distribution, and ensures staff in the field will be assessing and fitting users in line with World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘Guidelines on the provision of Manual Wheelchairs in less resourced settings’

What is the innovative solution?

The Emergency Wheelchair Response will allow high numbers of victims in an emergency situation to access relief services and have a greater chance of survival. Engaging with stakeholders involved in disaster risk management to inform them about our Emergency Wheelchair Response package will increase their awareness about including people with disabilities, and hopefully lead to them implementing the package within their disaster response planning
The lack of suitable wheelchairs in emergency settings causes life threatening situations for injured and disabled people. Without one these already vulnerable people are immobile, excluded from relief efforts, dependent on others and at risk of serious health complications. Despite these needs, wheelchair provision in emergency situations is often:

  • Omitted from emergency rehabilitation services (which predominantly focus on prosthetics and orthotics (P&O)), and not linked to other service provision
  • Not immediate – wheelchairs often arrive after the critical period when intervention can save lives
  • Unplanned – there is often no service infrastructure or training for the appropriate delivery of wheelchairs
  • Uncoordinated – the wheelchairs which do arrive are donated in an ad-hoc way
  • Inappropriate – according to the WHO Guidelines and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 7176

How does the innovation build on and improve existing humanitarian practice?

We will build on the momentum gained and successes achieved through two previous HIF grants; firstly a small grant where we were able to design the innovative emergency response wheelchair; and a large grant where we developed accompanying field tools and training to support the effective distribution of the emergency wheelchairs as well as then testing the complete package during the Haiyan Typhoon in the Philippines.

Following the completion of the large grant, we have been working closely with the UK International Emergency Trauma Register (UKIETR), a DFID-supported programme run by UK-Med. UKIETR brings together surgeons, anaesthetists, emergency physicians/nurses and other supporting medical, nursing and paramedical personnel who are interested in responding to large scale emergencies overseas.  We have provided training to professionals on this Register and they have already been mobilised to respond to the emergency in Gaza, utilising the Emergency Wheelchair Package. Further, both Handicap International (HI) and Johanniter Unfall Hilfe (JUH) have purchased stock of emergency wheelchairs, with the aim of utilising these in a future response. Motivation is also holding a stock of wheelchairs in the UNHRD Storage Hub in Dubai, ready for rapid deployment.

Motivation’s website

Latest Updates

Social enterprise approach helps NGO innovate and maximise impact

12 Dec 2016

Bond interview Motivation for a social enterprise approach to innovation.


The package grows up – leaving the project behind

9 Aug 2016

Motivation look back on their HIF journey since 2011, and share some of the positives.


Raising Awareness in Asia and Pacific Regions

27 Oct 2015

The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) recently invited Motivation to run a workshop on the inclusion of wheelchair users in disaster preparedness and emergency response at their 6th Asia Pacific Occupational Therapy Congress.


Map of Dissemination of Knowledge to Date

24 Sept 2015

Motivation share a map of all the places they have disseminated knowledge of their Emergency Wheelchair package as of yet.


ISPO 2015

14 Jul 2015

Motivation staff attended the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) World Congress, hosted in Lyon.


Emergency wheelchairs in use in Nepal

16 Jun 2015

Motivation set out out to increasing awareness and knowledge among humanitarian organisations that a solution exists for supporting people with mobility disabilities in emergencies.


Diffusion Grant Begins!

30 Apr 2015

Motivation received a Diffusion grant from the HIF to disseminate information about their Emergency Wheelchair Response package


Predicting Size Breakdown – Trial and Error

07 May 2014

One of the unexpected challenges for the project team is predicting which wheelchair sizes would be needed in an emergency. The destination of the wheelchairs will be unknown when stock is ordered, and the general build of any population varies vastly.


How useful have the emergency wheelchairs been?

17 Mar 2014

Motivation’s Sarah Sheldon reports back from a week visiting recipients in the Philippines of the emergency response wheelchair.


Getting emergency wheelchairs out there – thoughts from the Philippines

23 Jan 2014

Valentin Tocut, travelled to the Philippines on December 1st as part of the Johanniter International Assistance emergency response. Vali’s role was to establish an emergency wheelchair service, and he reports back on his trip here.


Emergency Response Wheelchairs sent to the Philippines

25 Nov 2013

Motivation reach the milestone of seeing the first deployment of their Emergency Response Wheelchair - to the Philippines in response to the recent disaster.


Hindsight is a wonderful thing

11 Oct 2013

This year the International Day for Disaster Reduction will focus on how disabled people are affected by disasters. Motivation’s Al Lamb talks here about how we can genuinely include disabled people in disaster response.


Fun with filming

18 Aug 2013

Motivation have been filming training videos to support the Emergency Response Wheelchair Training package. These videos are designed to reinforce the information taught in the training course, particularly as the course covers a lot of information in a short space of time.


Shipments from Shanghai

8 Jul 2013

The Emergency Response wheelchairs arrived at the Handicap International and Johanniter Emergency Response depots in Dubai and Frankfurt!


Training Emergency Responders

24 Apr 2013

Motivation spent a weekend in Frankfurt training staff from Johanniter International Assistance in emergency wheelchair response.


Interacting in India

19 Mar 2013

In February, David Constantine, Motivation’s co-founder and Executive Officer had the opportunity to attend the ISPO World Congress in Bangalore, India and make a presentation about the Emergency Response Wheelchair project.


Setting up Field Trials

14 Feb 2013

Having recently conducted a second set of field trial of the Emergency Response Wheelchair in Kenya, Chris Rushman, Motivation’s senior technical specialist, talks here about setting up the trials.


Negotiating the Numbers

9 Jan 2013

JAM, the manufacturer that will be producing the emergency response wheelchairs, is based in Suzhou in eastern China. Motivation’s supply chain controller Neil Beckitt visited the factory at the end of December.


Training in basic principles… and quickly please!

6 Dec 2012

One of the first activities for the implementation stage of the emergency response wheelchair project has been the development of a training course to set up and run an Emergency Response Wheelchair Service.


Johanniter International Assistance - Emergency Training

31 Oct 2012

Motivation attend an emergency training exercise organised by one of their partner organisations in the emergency wheelchair project, Johanniter International Assistance (JUH).


Next Steps for the Emergency Response Wheelchair

18 Sept 2012

Having been working on developing a rapid response wheelchair and support package for emergency situations since October 2011, Motivation are very excited to now have the opportunity to trial the implementation of this package.


DIP Grant Begins!

01 Sept 2012

Motivation received a Development and Implementation grant from the HIF to implement and test their emergency wheelchair.

Field Trials in Pakistan

30 May 2012

The first group of emergency wheelchair prototypes are undergoing field trials in Pakistan at the moment, with Handicap International running the trials through its team in the field.


Testing Times

2 Apr 2012

Motivation are using WHO guidelines to help inform the design process and ensure the wheelchairs are fit for purpose.


Planning and Preparedness in Kathmandu

3 Feb 2012

Motivation report back from a trip to Nepal in order to test a package of tools they have developed to assist in planning of wheelchair programmes.


Design Decisions with Handicap International

19 Dec 2011

At a meeting with their partner Handicap International, Motivation took two different prototypes of the emergency wheelchair to discuss with them and were able to agree on key design points.


Trialling Types of Tubes and Tyres

02 Dec 2011

Unlike the wheelchairs Motivation have previously designed, the requirements for emergency wheelchairs are different, as they will be used in settings like emergency camps where there will be no facilities for bike repairs, making pneumatic inner tubes difficult to maintain.


From Design Brief to a Prototype

23 Nov 2011

Motivation's starting point for the design process has been to look at various wheelchairs currently being produced. Having designed appropriate wheelchairs for use in developing countries for 20 years now, this experience means that they don’t start from scratch each time.


Latest small grant award: Appropriate and affordable emergency wheelchairs

11 Oct 2011

Having received a small grant from the HIF, Motivation set out to design an appropriate, affordable, lightweight, 'emergency wheelchair' for use in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.


Related Resources

Report Disabilities

Final Report: Appropriate and affordable emergency wheelchairs

Report Disabilities

Final Report: The Rapid Provision of Appropriate Wheelchairs in Emergency Situations

Case Study Disabilities, Innovation Management, More than Just Luck

Supporting disabled people in emergencies: Motivation’s appropriate and affordable wheelchairs

Report Disabilities

Final Report: Increasing awareness and knowledge amongst humanitarian organisations that a solution exists for supporting disabled people in emergencies

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