In paramedics patient lifting devices are paramount to safe ambulance practice and good risk management. Our job is and always will include some level of lifting patients, and therefore patient lifting devices must always be considered. This is irrespective of the severity of the emergency, if paramedics are going to be able to continue to perform their duties they will need to be able to use their back in the future! So, what are some good lifting devices?
Lifting devices come in two main forms: physical patient lifting devices, and mechanical patient lifting devices. Unfortunately, ambulances are still full of the physical lifting devices (in which the paramedics must still actually life the patient themselves, but the lifting equipment makes it easier to do so).
Physical Patient Lifting Devices include:
1. Patient carry sheet -- which can be rolled under a patient and then used by 4 or more paramedics to carry the patient out of a house or lift him or her onto an ambulance stretcher. The benefits of a patient carry sheet is that it allows you to twist the shape of the patient in order to mobilise the patient around a doorway. The obvious negative aspect of the patient carry sheet is the fact that you still have to physically lift the patient, and it may not be easy to get 4 or more paramedics through small coridoors or staircases.
2. Pat Slide (or patient slide) -- which is basically a firm board used by paramedics and nurses to slide a patient from one bed to another (instead of lifting the patient from one bed to the other, the energy is used to physically slide the patient which is easier).
3. Patient Carry Chair -- which is a small wheel chair that can be used to wheel a patient and lift a patient down stairs.
4. Scoop Stretcher -- a scoop stretcher is a small scoop like board that comes apart in the middle (feathers in the middle) to allow you to place the scoop around a patient. This avoids having to roll a patient to get it underneath them, or when you have to remove it. This is particularly useful if you are treating a patient with a fractured pelvis.
5. Spine board -- a spine board is basically a tough peice of plastic which can be used to slide a patient out of an motor vehicle. This helps to avoid physically lifting a patient out and instead changes the physics of the lifting to a sliding motion. It also helps maintain spinal allignment during the process.
6. Kendrick Extrication Device -- the kendrick Extrication Device is a paramedical lifting device, originally designed for the military, and is utilised to imobilise a patient’s spine while in a vehicle and then allows a rescuers to lift the patient out of the vehicle, without causing further damage to the spine.
Mechanical Lifting Devices
The HoverJack is a natural extension of the hovermatt concept and basically is a set of 4 hovermattresses attached to eachother. The hoverjack can be placed underneath the patient who has a BMI of 25, 35, 45 and higher! Then, as the hoverjack is inflated using a reverse vacume device, the hoverjack raises up to the height of stretcher, bed or other specified device. This makes it so that you avoid lifting the patient from ground height. The hoverjack may be used in situations where the patient is unable to get down stairs or his or her bedroom and in an emergency, may be used to literally drag the patient down using its hover-craft properties (each country has different laws regarding the safe working limits and risk management strategies for this). A HoverJack can be purchased for around $6-8,000.
Here is a video link of a HoverJack demonstration: