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Fairchild Firefighter Develops Glucose Necklace For Diabetics

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Here's the longer version of our story with Kris Maynard.

Diabetics have many strategies when it comes to handling fluctuations in their blood sugar. Some carry candy bars or other foods to eat when they feel their blood sugar running low. Fairc hild Air Force Base firefighter/EMT Kris Maynardhas devised his own solution and is looking to bring it to market.

Maynard was diagnosed with diabetes when he was in the military. It kept him from re-enlisting and, at one point, he lost a job because of it. Then there was that time he and his kids went camping.

“In the middle of the forest, in the middle of the night, my kids had to call 911 and wait for emergency crews to come by and help me with a low blood sugar episode. At that point I decided to do something about it,” he said.

What he did was create a necklace made of plastic tubing that contains glucose gel, something he can wear around his neck in case his body tells him he needs sugar.

“We’ve made the necklace 22 inches long because we wanted to be able to fit 25 grams of glucose gel in it," he said. "The American Diabetes Association recommends that everyone on insulin carry 15 grams of glucose gel. For me, when I’ve gone out running, I have found 15 grams doesn’t always help and isn’t always enough.”

When you need the glucose, you take off the necklace, undo the connection and squeeze the gel into your mouth or onto your finger so you can rub it on your gums. There are no injections, no IVs.

“There’s different variables, but it can work between just a couple minutes, it could be 10 minutes. It’s just as quick as anything else that’s out there,” Maynard said.

For two years, Maynard and his wife have been busy solving problems related to manufacturing the necklace and getting regulatory approval. They’ve received help with the business side of it from Michael Ebinger. He’s the director of the Center for Innovation at WSU Spokane.

“We have a good value proposition. Do we really have customers out there? Through his network of people he knows, he was able to put together a survey and sent the survey out to these people saying, if this product was available, would you buy it? He has more than 400 responses to a basically off-the-wall survey, which is unheard of; it’s way higher than I’ve ever seen. That’s guiding us into, yes, this product has a certain audience, if you will, that’s ready to buy it,” Ebinger said.

“Initially, I was thinking it was just for the diabetic. but what I’ve learned — we’ve just got back from the Children with Diabetes conference in Florida — is how much the parents loved it. Their kids may not wear it, but they would," Maynard said. "And so we got some really good feedback for the parents’ way of being able to have something on them to be able to help with the kids.”

Kris Maynard hopes to have a product ready to sell within the next few months. He’s not placing it in retail stores because he believes the cost would be too high. Instead, you’ll be able to order it at