Lifesaving Systems Corp. (LSC) was founded in 1980 when Sam Maness finished his U.S. Coast Guard career and moved to Florida. When he was working in search and rescue, the teams needed things that didn’t exist and nobody would make them. Helicopter rescue was still a relatively young idea, with the first helicopter hoist occurring just thirty-six years earlier. Manufacturers weren’t willing to make custom gear in small quantities. It frustrated Sam because he knew how serious the work of search and rescue was and believed the teams doing it deserved the best possible gear for the job. So he set up two sewing machines in his garage and started making flotation kits for rescue litters, something no one else in the world had thought to do. Since then, he’s been inventing and manufacturing things that rescuers needed but couldn’t get anywhere else. Solving that problem – the right gear for the job – is what built LSC and still drives our boss today.
In this new year, this small company he built will turn forty. Along with his military career, Sam Maness has been involved with maritime search and rescue equipment for over sixty years. Few people, if any, have had an impact as significant as our boss in the development of equipment used in helicopter SAR. For certain, no one knows more about it and its history than he does. There is hardly a piece of gear used in maritime SAR that wasn’t invented, improved, or at least influenced by Sam or one of his designs. He invented the first automatic locking helicopter hoist hook. He made the first and only field-packable pleated flotation collar. He invented the world’s only collapsible and compact rescue baskets. If you wear a low profile flotation collar (LPFC) in a helicopter, it is most likely his design. The hardware he invented for his rescue harnesses and litters has proven so useful that LSC sells five-times more of them to other companies than we use for our own gear. His life’s work, and influence, and the reach of LSC products is so great that every hour of every day something Sam Maness invented and made at LSC is on or over the waters of the world, being used to save a life. It’s been that way for decades. I don’t think any of us could be prouder to work here.
Now, this past year was a very good one for LSC – the best yet it turned out. We delivered close to a thousand helicopter hoist hooks including a few hundred of the new and improved D-LOK hooks. We shipped three times more titanium rescue litters than in any previous year. We gained FAA approval for our TRITON vest and CASA approval for our Quick Strops. All told we delivered over half-a-million products across 500 part-numbers to rescue teams around the world. 2019 has been the companies best year ever. And that’s great, and we are proud of ourselves, but we all can’t help but look forward to what happens next. Because things are getting better.
We’ve brought some pretty sharp players onto the team with more on the way. Sam and the rest of us have been heads-down, working on his favorite pastime; making better gear for the rescuers that need it. 2020 will be LSC’s 40th lifesaving year and we are not going to be resting on our past success. In the next year, we will introduce new products that we believe will have a lasting impact on maritime and helicopter SAR. Rescue Baskets will be made better. We’re introducing a new strobe light and improving the performance of our current ones, and we are changing the game completely in Human External Cargo harnesses and helicopter restraint devices. Oh, and that litter float kit is getting a major makeover this year, too.
2019 was not just another year at LSC and 2020 won’t be either. Thanks to all of you – and to Sam, of course – for forty lifesaving years.
Have a happy new year, everyone. We’re sure going to.