Design of a Sensor-Enabled Testing Device for the TrueClot® Tourniquet Application Trainer; An Analysis of the Hyatt-Regency Walkway Collapse Through the Lens of Virtue Ethics

Endashaw, Nahom, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Laugelli, Benjamin, EN, University of Virginia
Day, Brad, Luna Labs USA, LLC

My technical work over the last couple of semesters has been focused on the design of a sensor-enabled testing device for Luna Labs’ TrueClot® Tourniquet Application Trainer. With regards to my technical work, Luna Labs creates products, such as their tourniquet application trainer and their wound packing trainer, that provide simulation training to mitigate the continuation of animal testing. Furthermore, our sensor device may prove that the tourniquet application trainer provides unrealistic/inaccurate training. These implications of these results include the need for Luna Labs to notify their customers, alter the design of their trainer, and assessments would need to be made to determine if personnel need to be retrained after training on the inaccurate tourniquet application trainer. For my STS research, I specifically used the ethical theory of virtue ethics to analyze the Hyatt-Regency Walkway collapse. As one may predict, these projects have a very loose topical and thematic relationship. While there seems to be a very fleeting connection between the two, the manner in which both my technical work and STS research are connected is through ethical motivations.

The device I discuss in my Technical Report is a sensor-enabled testing device system. The purpose of building this device was to determine if the trainer provides a realistic training scenario and will inform Luna of the reliability of their trainer design. This device system is composed of an Arduino Uno, a circuit, and a sensor. The circuit itself is composed of a breadboard, wires, a 10kΩ resistor, and a Force Sensing Resistor (FSR) which is our sensor. The way the sensor was tested is that the tourniquet application trainer was fitted over a mannequin arm and the sensor was inserted into the tourniquet application trainer. Next, a squeeze bottle was connected to the trainer (in order to simulate blood flowing out of the simulated wound in the trainer) and a tourniquet was placed over the trainer and directly over the sensor. Finally, the squeeze bottle would be squeezed and the tourniquet would be tightened until no more water comes out of the simulated wound.

For my STS research, while much has already been considered about the technical causes of the failure that led to the Hyatt-Regency Hotel’s walkway collapse, I realized there was still much to be understood regarding the morality of the important parties involved and their actions. Virtue ethics provides a unique lens into the decisions these individuals made that caused 114 people to lose their lives. This novel perspective of judgment of morality based upon the ethical theory of virtue ethics revealed to me that these engineers clearly lacked the ability to communicate in an informative and clear manner and they also were not competent enough to take on the responsibility of such a project. As a result, the engineers (and company they worked for) lacked the morality required of adequate engineers.

Having worked on both projects simultaneously, I obtained insights to my technical work that I never could have if I did not do this work in tandem. For example, the research and application of virtue ethics that I employed throughout my STS project motivated me to deeply take into account the numerous ethical considerations I mentioned in the beginning of this reflective statement. I realized how, ethically, it would be imperative for Luna Labs to consider how they would change training protocols if it was shown that their tourniquet application trainer did not provide a realistic training scenario. I also realized that Luna Labs would have to notify their current and future customers about the realisticness of their product. To conclude, my virtue ethics analysis of the Hyatt-Regency walkway collapse in tandem with my technical report allowed me to gain valuable insights into my technical work and each project provided value to the other.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
tourniquet, limb occlusion pressure, force sensing resistor, Instron, value ethics

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisors: Brad Day
STS Advisor: Benjamin Laugelli, Ph.D.
Technical Team Members: Josephine Johannes and Molly Luckinbill

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: