Everything You Need to Know About Stretchers

The stretcher, also known as a gurney, pram, or trolley, is a device for moving immobilized, sick, or injured patients who require medical care. In its basic form, it consists of canvas stretched over a frame. They are usually used in situations outside of a hospital setting by first responders, including emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, the military, and search and rescue operations.

Hospital stretcher units are built for transporting patients across the facility, such as from the ward to the operating theater or the X-ray room. These hospital-based stretchers vary in intricacy from straightforward to advanced, incorporating options such as shelves for physiological monitors and hydraulically powered mechanisms for the adjustment of height and pad positions.

History of stretchers

Two organizations were mainly behind the development of the stretcher, The Red Cross, which provides humanitarian aid across the world, and the St John Ambulance Association, which teaches and deploys first aid skills and emergency services across the globe. Both organizations are still operational today. 

Moved by the suffering of soldiers wounded in battle, in 1863, Henri Dunant founded the Red Cross (also known as the Red Crescent) to provide first aid and emergency treatment to casualties. The early stretchers were lightweight, portable, and made of canvas or similar material suspended between two poles or tubular aluminum frames. Simple stretchers continue to be commonly used by military personnel and emergency aid providers today, and they are stored as military equipment and disaster supply.

Indications for Use

Stretchers are utilized in the movement or transportation of:

  • Injured and/or wounded persons
  • The terminally ill
  • Patients who need to be moved around a facility for diagnostic or treatment purposes
  • Diseased persons

Complications During Usage

Below is a list of complications that can occur while transporting a patient on a stretcher:

  • Faulty side rails

The side rails of a stretcher are designed for patient safety. They protect the patient from falling off. However, these rails can fail or malfunction, exposing the patient to the risk of falling off the stretcher.

A common issue with the side rails occurs when handlers fail to properly secure or lock the rail into position while raising or lowering the side rails to create a zero-transfer gap. Without a zero-transfer gap, it is dangerous and difficult to transfer a patient laterally.

  • The fifth wheel

The function of the fifth wheel is mainly to assist with the steering of the stretcher and provide a smooth ride. This subjects it to a lot of wear and tear throughout the course of its life. There are some things users need to observe to make sure that your fifth wheel is in the correct operating condition. For example, guaranteeing that the wheel appearance is in the right position (e.g., it reaches the floor), the lever remains barred throughout use, and the lever used to activate your fifth wheel is not bent. If you face any of those malfunctions, it is recommended to get your equipment maintained as soon as possible.

  • The backrest gas cylinder

like most elements of your stretcher, this one additionally gets an exertion. The constant use will cause the backrest gas cylinder to wear out or lose its strength. The key issues that occur when this piece wears out include the cylinder not having the ability to succeed in its main purpose, the cylinder drifting down when being placed into an inclined position, or the cylinder being more durable to boost. Once the cylinder becomes more durable to boost, there is a more considerable risk of injury to your employees or patients. If you face any of those symptoms, you ought to get it tested at once.

Alternative Equipment

The following are the choice instruments which will be utilized in place of a medical stretcher:

  • Hand carriage,
  • Shoulder straps
  • A special kind of designed harness that allows you the load shifting between the hips and shoulders (hip-shoulder system)
  • A clip that fits on the belt of standard military load-carrying equipment (LCE) and then placed the stretcher mass primarily on the hips.


Basic stretchers:

  • Simple stretchers are the most rudimentary kind. They are light-weight, portable, manufactured from canvas, or different artificial materials suspended between 2 poles or hollow aluminum frames. They are used during disasters and are often former military devices.
  • The folding stretcher, additionally referred to as a high deck or foldable device, is comparable in style to the simpler versions. However, there are various types with hinged points to permit the stretcher to be folded into a compact unit for easier handling or storage. Some models even allow the patient to take a seat upright in the Fowler’s or Semi-Fowler’s position.
  • The scoop stretcher is employed when lifting patients onto an ambulance or onto a spinal board. The two ends of the equipment will be detached from one another, rending it into two longitudinal halves. To load a patient, one end or both ends of the unit are detached, the halves are placed beneath the patient from either side and fixed back along. With larger patients, there is a chance that the patient’s back is accidentally pinched while closing the device. Therefore, care should be taken not to injure them while completing this procedure.
  • The litter, additionally referred to as a rescue basket or Stokes basket, is intended to be used wherever there are obstacles to movement or different hazards (e.g., in confined areas, on slopes, in the wooded tract) Generally, it is shaped to accommodate an adult individual in the face-up position, and it is utilized in search and rescue operations. The person is strapped into the basket, creating the conditions necessary for a safe evacuation. The litter has raised sides and includes a removable head and torso to protect patients. There are many ways a person can be helped using a litter on angled or flat surfaces. Some of these methods include being carried by hand, mounted on an ATV, towed by a snowmobile, or hoisted by a plane.
  • Reeves Sleeve, SKED, or a “flexible stretcher” is a versatile tool that is typically supported along its length by wooden or plastic planks. It is a sort of tarp with handles. It is primarily utilized to move a patient through confined spaces or to raise lift patients) Reeves stretchers have six handholds, permitting multiple rescuers to help to free.
  • The Wauk board is designed to fit in tight spaces. The patient is fastened to the board with straps. There are two wheels and a folding footstool at one end which are used by the patient to be touched by one person, much like with a cart for moving loads. It may be used at a range of angles, making it easier to traverse obstacles, like tight stairwells.
  • Wheeled devices. In ambulances, a necessary accessory is a foldable wheeled device or gurney, that is typically on a variable-height wheeled frame. Commonly an integral lug on it locks into a sprung latch inside the motorcar to forestall movement throughout transport, typically remarked as antlers because of their form. It is generally linked to a disposable sheet and cleaned after each patient to stop the spread of infections and disease. Its primary function is to facilitate the mobility of the patient and provide a sheet onto a set bed or table upon arrival at the emergency department of the hospital. Each of the sorts could have straps to secure the patient after any kind of injury.

Lifting Maneuvers

Listed below are several techniques for lifting patients and loading them onto a stretcher before transferring them to a different area.

  1. Vertical lift (Straddle lift)
  • Five members technique
  • Four members technique
  • Two members technique
  • Lifting with strap
  1. Transitional raise.
  2. Log Roll technique.

General Specifications

  • Width: Around 31 inches
  • Length: 83 inches
  • Floor to deck positions: 21.5 inches for low; 34 inches for high
  • Weight capacity: 485 lbs.
  • Caster size: 8''
  • Head elevation upper limit: 80 degrees
  • Max trend and reverse trend: 18 degrees

Market Leaders

Global Ambulance Stretcher Market sedimentation

By Product Type:

  • Emergency
  • Transport Stretchers

By Technology:

  • Manual
  • Electric high-powered
  • Pneumatic

By Brand:

  • HNT
  • NOA Platinum Patient
  • MJM International
  • Ferno


Stretchers are a particularly vital tool and are an imperative a part of any rescue services tools once it involves liberating folks from car accidents and other tragic events that could have caused internal and external injuries. The stretchers are most frequently utilized to raise those who have a spinal cord injury from the history of fall, or because of unconsciousness or to uphold stability within the case of distress. They additionally reduce the chance of unwanted movement of harmed areas during the handover of a trauma patient, as they preserve the patient in a very flat alignment throughout transfer to a standard version if needed.

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