Problem Solver

Ron Laswick

Ron Laswick
I would love the opportunity to try to help you solve your challenges!

I have been fascinated with Inventions since a very young age. I developed hobbies in these fields and I taught myself the world of science, physics, electricity and electronics, well in advance of any learning I received in schools. When I was in grade 10, or so, I designed and made a working prototype of the world's first "talking" calculator for the blind. I sent the details to CNIB here in Canada, only to find out that a Swiss company had already beat me to it. That turned me off of Inventing for quite some time. Through this, I learned about Patents. My next attempt at inventing was at the age of 24, where I made a set of noise cancellation headphones for noisy environment hearing protection. I submitted the concept to a firm called The Canadian Innovation Centre for a paid evaluation. They indicated that it probably wouldn't work and there was a very small market potential for it. It turns out that it has been marketed successfully for many years someone else. Another turn off. This happened many times throughout the years. I then found work in the consumer small appliance repair business for ten years. Next job was at O-Two Medical Technologies, where I started as a field service technician, moved up to Quality Assurance, then into Product Development where I created all the initial prototypes and product development for all the products they still sell today. Approximately $30-$40 M in sales since 1992, many patents issued and I won a Manning Innovation Award for one of these. Finally, I headed up their Research and Development department. I did not have an Engineering certificate through all this. I ran out of opportunities at that firm, and as I had many inventions that I wanted to pursue, I found an Angel Investor to fund a start-up. It was a big decision for me, as I had been employed at this one firm for 24 years…but I had to try. Things started off OK, but we had trouble finding a specialized Engineering firm to design the prototypes. We got “Bamboozled” by two engineering companies, and after two and a half years, the Investor pulled the plug. He did not have any prior experience in the product development world, and was of the mindset, that all one needed to do is hire an engineer, do the drawings, make a prototype…and then sell, sell, sell it! That would be nice…..but sometimes things go amuck. Just near the end of this period, we did find a great company to work with that produced two functional prototypes, but by then, it was too late. After this endeavour, I found work in the field of pneumatic air tool repair. I could not get back into Product Development, Engineering or into any medical company due to my lack of required degrees and formal education. (Now we won’t bring up the fact that Edison only had three months of official schooling....but 1,093 Patents were awarded to him over his lifetime. Intelligence, creativity and vision aren't things taught, nor learned in a school.) I worked there for almost two years, and was laid off recently due to the economy here.
So, here I am again, seeking work. At the moment, I am looking for technician or repair type jobs. I really need to be in the field of product development though; it is the only thing I am really happy working at. It’s exciting. So, bottom line is that I am either giving up on product development and Inventing and seeking a job in a repair field, or I try to find another Angel Investor to move some of my other many inventions forward.

Areas Ron Laswick is Knowledgeable in:

Breakthrough technologies which open doors to new possibilities for the future. There are two types of Inventions. The first type where clever minds have assembled unique devices to perform a task, and the best type, where Technological Breakthroughs occur and new science is unleased.

Techniques Ron Laswick Uses:

Out of the Box approach. Put the textbooks and knowledge aside temporarily and look at the problem from a different angle.

The gas busters
After fumes killed several Shell Canada employees
working in confined spaces, two inventors
devised a compact resuscitator now saving lives around the world
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, March 29, 2000
An occasional series on inventors and
The need was self-evident, says co-inventor Kevin
Bowden. Several Shell Canada employees had died
after inhaling toxic gas emissions while working in
confined spaces such as deep holes at drilling sites
or small rooms in natural-gas refineries.
"The primary problem was hydrogen sulphide, a
colourless, odorless gas that knocks out the
breathing centre in the brain with very small
concentrations," Mr. Bowden explains. "It just tells
your body to stop breathing and if that happens and
if you don't get the patient out and into clear air, or
pump clean air into them, they will die very quickly.
"Some of the buildings they were going into were incredibly tortuous [environments]. You
couldn't put in a rope or someone to pull them out. They'd lost, I think, about 12 people and
realized that they couldn't go on losing staff. They needed to do something about the devices that
they could utilize within the confined space because if you can't get them out, you've got to get
clean breathing air to them."
Faced with that reality, Shell Canada approached the medical-devices industry in 1992 with the
specifications for an automatic resuscitator that would allow employees to quickly enter a
confined space and rescue a downed worker.
The device had to be small, compact and portable. It had to work off compressed air because it
would often be utilized in potentially explosive atmospheric conditions. It had to be simple to use
because the rescuers were not trained medical professionals.
Mr. Bowden was intrigued by Shell's call for proposals and specifications. The 44-year-old
medical-lab technician and medical-devices salesman had immigrated to Canada in 1991 to
become general manager of Mississauga-based O-Two Systems International Inc., a
manufacturer of emergency medical equipment.
While employed in Britain for a medical-devices firm called Neotronics, Mr. Bowden had
worked on developing an automatic resuscitator. But at the time, O-Two Systems wasn't in the
business of manufacturing automatic ventilating equipment.
Nevertheless, Mr. Bowden began brainstorming with O-Two Systems Concept Designer Ron
Laswick about an automatic, gas powered, mechanical means of performing cardiopulmonary
What eventually emerged from their sessions was the Genesis II IDLH (for "Immediately
Dangerous to Life and Health") Rescue Resuscitator, which has become the resuscitator of
choice within many industries and hospitals.
In the field, it allows rescuers to enter a toxic environment, secure a face mask on a downed
worker and quickly administer clean breathing air through a hose attached to a cylinder of
compressed air.
The hose can be hooked up either to a cylinder the rescuer is using or to a separate cylinder
carried in a small case. Either way, the pneumatic device -- which is powered by the release of
compressed air from the cylinder -- starts pumping a precise, regulated amount of air into the
victim's lungs.
"It automatically starts ventilating. There's no need to turn any switches or anything, and it
ventilates at a normal respiratory rate for an adult," Mr. Bowden says.
Equally important, the device stops pumping air automatically into victims when they start
breathing on their own. But because the mask is still attached to their face, they can continue to
access air from the cylinder rather than inhale the dangerous ambient air that originally caused
their downfall.
"The worst thing that can happen when you start to breathe spontaneously is to have the
ventilator pump another breath at you," Mr. Bowden notes. Excessive amounts of oxygen can
cause hyperventilation, where the blood becomes overoxygenated, causing dizziness and
The pneumatic device also has a fail-safe mechanism in the event the victim stops breathing. It
simply kicks in again and starts pumping air if no oxygen has been drawn from the unit after a
few seconds.
"It's a 'smart' unit that will actually sense when the patient starts to breathe on his own," Mr.
Laswick explains. "It has a pressure sensor connected to a demand valve. It senses that gas is
being drawn from the unit and injects gas into a different part of the circuit to stop the automatic
cycling, which will create a time delay, and it will automatically start cycling again if the patient
doesn't continue breathing for a specified period of time [four to seven seconds]."
The pneumatic device has a number of other features that have quickly resulted in it becoming
the pre-eminent resuscitator used worldwide. For starters, it uses laser-drilled flow restrictors,
rather than needle valves, to control air flows and is thus less susceptible to extremes in
temperature. The Genesis device operates in ranges from -40 C to 60 C.
But the real beauty of the hand-held device is that its inventors were able to miniaturize its
components thereby reducing the drive gas consumption required, allowing for a longer
operating time on a cylinder of air.
The Genesis II is to earlier resuscitators what laptop computers are to the "big, bulky monsters"
first built by the electronics industry, Mr. Laswick says. "That's basically the step we took, to
subminiaturize equipment to fit into the system."
Shell was delighted. The resuscitators "are portable. They're very easy to use," says Shell Canada
occupational-health co-ordinator Ann Campbell. "We've been fortunate that we've never had to
use one in a real live situation. But we've had them in place since 1993 and we train on them
every year and are confident that they would meet our needs."
The basic device weighs a scant 13 ounces and retails for $2,195. It now comes in three models
with various features, including a model suitable for adults or children, which delivers oxygen in
six different settings depending on the size of the patient. Mr. Bowden notes the Ontario
government has purchased thousands of units for use in all provincial ambulances.
O-Two Systems has since become a major player in the resuscitation industry and is now
manufacturing components for virtually every resuscitator sold in the world. Mr. Bowden and
Mr. Laswick say they're currently working on several new lines of automatic ventilators and
other new devices.
"When we come up with an idea for a product, Ron and I sit down and talk about how we will
make the idea come to fruition." says Mr. Bowden.
Mr. Laswick says he brings a measure of practicality to the partnership: "I make the ideas work.
Having an idea is one thing....making it work is quite something else."
"[Ron] is the one who designs and makes all the prototypes. He's really quite clever. He has
created approximately seventy-five percent of the products that we manufacture. Patents have
been awarded on many of these." says Mr. Bowden.
Many inventions are often the product of such teamwork, adds Mr. Bowden. "There are three
ways to invent something. You've got the old 'Eureka principle,' where there is a sudden flash of
inspiration and you know exactly what you have to do. Then there is the developmental process,
whereby you work as a team or as a pair or group of individuals and work towards this thing you
are looking to develop.
"The third [and best way] is accidental discovery. Some of the best inventions were created this
way. You have to be experimenting, trying different things for this to happen. Previous
knowledge does not help you here. You have to have an open mind. Discoveries like this are
usually something that no one would have ever expected. Many things in the field of science are
as yet, undiscovered. The text books do not hold all the answers." says Mr. Laswick.
Invention is often the product of sheer persistence, adds the Thunder Bay-born Mr. Laswick,
who worked in the retail-appliance servicing industry for 10 years and studied electronics at
Humber College in the evenings before joining O-Two Systems.
In developing the Genesis II resuscitator, there were a lot of brick walls to get by, "with
component seal friction and just general size problems," notes the 41-year-old Laswick who,
along with his wife Margaret, is the proud parent of children Justin, Kelsey and Marina. "We ran
into a lot of difficulties but we kept at it. It was a joint effort, not only by us, but with our
engineering team."
Invention often involves finding a creative solution to a problem, he adds. With device
improvements, the first step "is to fully understand how it works, and then creatively try to make
it simpler, better and -- ideally -- cheaper, possibly with a totally new concept or method. I
believe that it was Albert Einstein who said: 'Imagination is more important than knowledge.' "
But Mr. Laswick also notes that invention is increasingly the product of corporate team efforts,
with all the profits accruing to the firm, which invariably holds the patent on ideas developed by
Pursuing inventions and patents is often financially prohibitive for the average individual, Mr.
Laswick says. "Corporations have taken over that. You don't see the Edisons any more. They're
sitting behind somebody else."
Still, Mr. Laswick hopes some day to achieve commercial success with one of his many
innovations. He describes his hobby as "inventing things" and says he continually operates in
"mad-scientist mode, [inventing everything] from burning water [yes, using water as fuel, with
more energy output than it takes to break the water molecule into its hydrogen and oxygen
components, using ultra high temperature superconducting ceramics as the active elements] to . .
. simple stuff, kids' toys through to aircraft equipment."
But Mr. Laswick declines to discuss his inventions in greater detail, out of concern that his ideas
will be lost or stolen for lack of resources to develop the products. Until then, they're locked
safely away and "there they will remain until either I find investors to develop them further, or
someone else markets them and I will scratch them off the list, as I have done in the past. It's just
a matter of time. When this happens, I realize that my ideas were good, but too late. I cannot stop
inventing. I was born to invent. It is part of who I am."
Wayne Kondro is an Ottawa-based science writer. He can be reached regarding suggestions for
the Globe's inventors series at 613-789-6458.

Ron Laswick's Problem Solving Skills:

  1. Many years of “hands-on” practical experience in product aftermarket service, product development, manufacturing environmen
  2. Vision to see what lays beyond what is today. Inventor.
  3. Patent Searches and Patent Applications.
  4. Micro Pneumatics Custom component design
  5. A strong ability to troubleshoot and resolve complex problems.
  6. Demonstrated track record for innovative product design, development and commercialization of many Patented devices
  7. Optimistic determination when facing a challenge.
  8. Medical Device Design and Manufacturing
  9. Product concept design, prototyping, testing, and prototype/production test fixtures.
  10. Electronics servicing, soldering, electro-mechanical repair, automotive repair, computer repair, electrical wiring, appliances

Ron Laswick's Problem Solving Experience:

  1. Revolutionized the size and weight possibilities of adavanced gas powered resuscitators through unique component design strategies.
  2. Inventor/Designer of all gas powered manual and automatic resuscitation devices manufactured and sold by O-TWO Systems.
  3. Developed unique laser drilled flow control orifices for use in critical medical device timing devices. Off the shelf flow controls were not acceptable for use.
  4. Achieved significant reduced product manufacturing costs through device and process simplification across multiple product lifecycles through device and process simplification.
  5. I created many prototype inventions in a team Engineering environment to solve client problems. Many were commercialized and still sold today.
  6. Too many to list here....
  7. 1997 Canadian Manning Innovation Award winner for the design of a novel automatic gas powered resuscitation device that solved a serious problem faced by Shell Canada in the oil refinement industry that permitted resuscitation efforts to be carried out in toxic gas environments.