It is important to note that stretchers are mainly used to transport individuals to an ambulance or from one room to another within a healthcare facility. The stretchers for ambulance use during emergencies can be adjusted mechanically or manually and can be folded at the head and foot for use in small spaces. The stretchers used in the healthcare facilities are larger with locking wheels and automatic controls. There are different types of stretchers yet they are mainly used for transfer of individuals.
Steps on how to transport an individual using a stretcher
- Position the stretcher at a comfortable level for loading by lowering it to the level of the patient or low enough for easy transfer to the stretcher. Make sure that the stretcher is on a stable surface and will not move or roll while the individual is placed on it. The wheels must be locked if needed.
- The sidebar on the side where the individual will load on the stretcher must be lowered. Assist the individual onto the stretcher and make sure he/she is comfortable. Return the sidebar to its upright position for safety once the individual is on the stretcher.
- Secure the individual with the straps if needed. Secure the middle strap, chest strap, bottom strap and the shoulder harness so that they are comfortable but not too tight.
- You have to lift the stretcher by observing proper body mechanics to prevent injury while lifting. The feet must be spread about 15 inches apart and balance the center of gravity on both. Always keep the back straight and bend at the knees.
- Always work with a partner. Inform your partner that you are about to raise the stretcher to make sure that he/she is ready to assist. You have to straighten your legs to allow the upper body and leg muscles to help with the lifting. Do not bend or curve the spine while lifting since this can lead to injury.
- Elevate the head or foot area of the stretcher as needed for comfort or if required. Simply press the lever on the head or foot of the stretcher to adjust. When ready for transport, the wheels must be unlocked.
- When moving the stretcher, there must be one person guiding from the head while another is guiding from the foot to prevent it from moving sideways or becoming uncontrollable. Always communicate with your partner to make sure control is maintained.
- Transport the stretcher at a steady pace, making sure that proper coordination with your partner is maintained especially around corners, declines and inclines. Check the individual to keep his/her arms within the stretcher at all times.
Important considerations to bear in mind
You have to make sure that the legs of the stretcher are secured properly when removing it from the back of an ambulance in order to prevent it from collapsing.
If the stretcher is used on uneven surface, there must be four persons on all sides of the stretcher to secure it in place while the individual is being loaded.
Always observe proper body mechanics when lowering the stretcher. The back must be kept straight with feet wide apart, gravity centered and allow the leg muscles to support the weight of the stretcher. As a first aider, it is important that you are familiar on how to use stretchers. By enrolling in a first aid course, you will learn how to use one during emergencies.