Paramedics and EMTs often use different patient carrying devices to
transport victims. As a trained firstaider, you should familiarize yourself with these devices.
After providing first aid and initial emergency care at the scene of accident, the victim often needs to be transported to the nearest emergency department. Ambulances are equipped with different patient-carrying devices that are intended for specific purposes. Here are the common patient-carrying devices:
Wheeled stretcher – the most commonly used patient-carrying devices, wheeled stretcher may be a one-, two-, or mutli-level device. It ensures patient’s comfort and safety, and can also be adjusted to suit the patient’s preferred position: seated, semi-seated, flat, or even tilted down (Trendelenburg position). This device is perfect for use in smooth terrain.
Portable stretcher – this device is usually used when factors such as space limitations prevent moving the victim on a wheeled stretcher. First aiders, paramedics and EMTs often call it ‘soft cot’ and are usually made of tubular metal frames with coated fabric or canvas bottom and foldable legs and wheels. Some can be easily folded, and with adjustable backrest. However, this device is not recommended when spinal immobilization is necessary.
Stair chair –this device is recommended when the patient needs to be moved down stairs or through narrow corridors where conventional stretchers cannot possibly pass through. This should not be used in patients with altered mental status, unconscious, injuries to the lower extremities, and suspected spinal injury. Some stair chairs can be fully stretched out and converted into a portable stretcher.
Scoop stretcher – this can be used to pick up a person who has been badly injured and requires minimum movement, such as in hip fractures. It is also useful in limited areas where conventional stretchers will not fit. However, in order to use this patient carrying device, the first aiders or paramedics must have access from all sides of the victim. Although it can help minimize movements, it should not be used as the primary spine immobilization device.
Long spine board – this device is intended for transporting or moving individuals with spinal injury or suspected spinal injury. Usually, long-spine boards use the standard 9-foot straps, although some come with pins where special straps can be clipped. Head immobilization devices can also be used with wood spine boards.
Basket stretcher – this is the device of choice when the patient or victim needs to be moved from one level to another by rope or ladder. Some models come with security straps, four-point bridles, and adjustable foot rests. This type of stretcher ensures that the patient who is already on a spine board is completely immobilized.
Other patient carrying devices you may encounter as a first aider are the flexible stretcher and the bariatric stretcher. The flexible stretcher or reevesis often used in confined spaces or narrow corridors such as those in mobile homes. Meanwhile, bariatric stretcher is designed for transporting morbidly obese individuals.