Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Quick Emergency Stretcher

Rule 1: Don't move an injured patient, unless his life is in immediate danger. You can do more damage moving them, so in most cases wait for the paramedics. If, however, the injured person is in a dangerous place like near a fire, rising water or bad weather or dangerous animals are approaching you absolutely have to move an injured person, here's a way to make a quick sturdy stretcher using stuff that's easily available.

Gather up these two items.
  1. A blanket, tarpaulin, sheet of plastic or something blanket-like. On a beach you could use a couple of large beach towels, a sail from a sailboard or some pull the cover off the umbrella.
  2. A couple of poles, two tree limbs or long pipes or rods to use for the handles. Two sailboard masts could provide your poles or the umbrella posts. Anything long and straight can work.
Making the Stretcher:
  1. Lay out the blanket on a flat place so that the long edge of the blanket is toward you with the short edges to your left and right.
  2. Lay one pole on top of the blanket about 1/3 of the way over from the right edge of the blanket.
  3. Fold the right flap over the top of the first pole and lay it across the blanket toward the left side.
  4. Lay the second pole on top of the left edge of the blanket that was folded over about a third of the way from the left edge of the blanket. 
  5. Fold the left flap over the top of the pole and lay it all the way across the top of both poles.
Moving the Patient:

The best way to move the patient is carefully. Here are the steps.
  1. Lay the improvised stretcher next to the injured person, parallel to their body. 
  2. Get as many people as possible to help you lift. The more hands you have helping you, the easier it is to move the patient's body as a single unit. 
  3. Be careful not to allow damaged body parts to move. I could cause further injury if you try to straighten a broken limb or bend a damaged spine. 
  4. Lift the patient straight up and move his body slowly and lower it onto the top of the blanket. The patient's weight on top of the blankets will hold the blankets in place and prevent them from slipping from the poles. 
  5. Put two people on either end of the stretcher or four people, two on each end and lift by the poles. 
  6. When you carry the stretcher away, make sure everyone carrying it walks out of step with each other. This prevents the stretcher from swinging. If you walk in a march step, the rhythm of your step will cause the stretcher to swing back and fort and can cause those carrying it to stumble or drop the handle.
  7. If you have four people carrying the stretcher, put one on each end holding the poles and the other two walking alongside holding the poles at the center. 
Note:  Before you lift and go, practice a few times quickly so everyone knows what they are going to do. It's a good idea, if you work with kids and/or in wooded or isolated places, to practice making one of these stretchers so you can do it quickly.

© 2017 by Tom King

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