CAUTION: Many improvised stretchers do
not give sufficient support in cases where there
are fractures or extensive wounds of the body.
They should be used only when the casualty is able
to stand some sagging, bending, or twisting
without serious consequences. An example of this
type of improvised stretcher would be one made
of 40 to 50 feet of rope or 1 1/2-inch firehose (fig.
SPINEBOARDS. Spineboards are essential
equipment in the immobilization of suspected or
real fractures of the spinal column. Made of
fiberglass or exterior plywood, they come in two
sizes, short (18" x 32") and long (18" x 72"),
and are provided with handholds and straps, and
have a runner on the bottom to allow clearance
to lift (fig. 4-83).
A short spineboard is primarily used in extrica-
tion of sitting victims, especially in automobile
wrecks, where it would be difficult to maneuver
the victim out of position without doing additional
Figure 4-82.Improvised stretcher using rope or firehose.
damage to the spine. The long board makes a firm
litter, protecting the back and neck, and providing
a good surface for CPR and a good sliding sur-
face for difficult extrications. The short and long
boards are often used together. For example, at
an automobile accident site, the corpsmans first
task is to assess the whole situation and to plan
the rescue. If bystanders must be used, it is essen-
tial that they be thoroughly briefed, in detail, on
what you want them to do. After all accessible
bleeding has been controlled and the fractures
splinted, the short spineboard should be moved
into position behind the victim. A neck collar
should be applied in all cases and will aid in the
immobilization of the head and neck. The head
should then be secured to the board with a head-
band or a 6-inch self-adhering roller bandage. The
victims body is then secured to the board by use
of the supplied straps around the chest and thighs.
The victim may then be lifted out. If, however,
the victim is too large, or further immobilization
of the lower extremities is necessary, the long
spineboard may be slid at a right angle behind the
short spineboard, and the victim is maneuvered
onto his or her side and secured to the long board.
The possible uses of the spineboard in an
emergency situation are limited only by the im-
agination of the rescuers.