DRAGON’S Den judges would do well to keep a close eye on schoolboy Carl Hewitt.
The 13-year-old beat four professional companies to come up with a winning design for a first aid sign.
Carl, who goes to Springfield School in Drayton, Portsmouth, created the perfect tool to help workers at Southern Electic’s Havant offices, where more than 2,000 employees are based, to spot who is a qualified first aider.
He came up with a 2.5ft car aerial with a large green and white first aid sign on top, built into a solid wooden block that sits on the desk of a qualified member of staff.
When they are in, the aerial goes up, and when they are away it goes back down again.
Carl, of Lower Farlington Road, said: ‘I feel great to have won the challenge and it’s a bonus knowing my design will help to keep thousands of people safe.
‘I enjoyed the task but it was quite daunting when we visited the offices and realised just how huge they were.
‘My original idea was clipping a pole onto the computer monitor with a screw along it to fasten the sign, but I soon adjusted that and I’m proud of the end product.’
He added: ‘I love designing things and coming up with solutions to problems.
‘This has given me the confidence to pursue my other idea for footballs tailored in weight and shape for individual players.’
Students and staff at Springfield have already delivered 70 of Carl’s first aid models to Southern Electric – but they could have their work cut out for them as the model now looks likely to be rolled out nationwide.
Ray Coogan, Southern Electric’s safety committee chairman, set the original brief after an incident 18 months ago when an employee collapsed.
The two nearest first aid qualified staff were away from their desks – and the rescue operation was significantly delayed as everyone was scrambling to find someone to help.
Mr Coogan said: ‘It was a bit of a nightmare because we couldn’t easily identify the right people.
‘Four months ago I approached four companies to come up with a solution but their ideas were either too expensive or impractical – one of them wanted to mount a sign from the floor which would have been cumbersome.
‘It was certainly frustrating that they were unable to provide designs or concepts that really solved our problem.
‘So we approached Springfield and gave them three weeks to come up with ideas – they did brilliantly.
‘What Carl’s design did which the companies didn’t was tick all the boxes of high visibility, easy to remove and easy to identify. It’s simple and it’s effective. This whole exercise shows an uncluttered mind can work wonders.’
Southern Electric paid for all the materials for the project and gave £500 to the school, and a £50 voucher to Carl.