Colorado veterans making life-saving product for the battlefield

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- As the nation observes Veterans Day, some Colorado veterans are hard at work saving lives. They're making a product that's become crucial on the battlefield.

Centennial-based Skydex Technologies produces a product called Convoy Decking. Basically, it’s carpeting made from a plastic material that now lines the floors of 13,000 military vehicles. And it absorbs the shock of IED (improvised explosive device) blasts.

“It takes about 72 percent of that blast wave, and it mitigates it. So an event that would be 100 percent chance of injury no matter what, we take that down to a 10 percent chance of injury, that everyone`s gonna get up and walk out of that vehicle,” said Frank Dravecky, Decking Sales Manager for Skydex.

Dravecky knows the dangers first-hand. He was injured in a blast as a soldier in Iraq. Blasts from IED’s are responsible for 75 percent of the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the Skydex research lab and warehouse in Centennial, CO, they’ve figured out their plastic lining can be used on pretty much everything to protect soldiers. From the inside of helmets, to guard against traumatic brain injuries, to footwear. In fact, the plastic material is the same technology used in Nike Air tennis shoes.

Inside their test lab, Skydex workers put the life-saving plastic to the test. One machine recreates the force of a bomb, another simulates the extreme hot and cold conditions of the battlefield, to see if the plastic holds up.

They also have a huge shock tube that mimics the effects of a huge IED blast, big enough to blow up a huge military vehicle. The scaled-down blast simulations show them how well their product works, and what needs to be done to improve it.

And the best part? Like Frank, many of the people working at Skydex are warriors. Veterans now working hard to find new ways to save the lives of US service men and women who are still in danger.