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Spine Boards

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Who makes the best spine boards, and what makes them the best? What features do they offer that others do not?

Holy shit! Someone that's actually thinking about EMS from a different perspective. I have to chastise you a bit, as your first few posts are supposed to be about decapitations and spurting arteries....

But if you insist on exploring this avenue...I have nothing to add. I'm sorry.

I use a scoop every chance I get. I hate spine boards. Every make, type, color, material, I hate them all. I don't know the different scoop brands, or makers, or styles, I just know that there is nothing mashing against my patient's spine and ribs for the most part. And for me, that is almost always a good thing.

My betters here will have much more intelligent advice I'm sure. I just wanted to chime in and mention that..you're weird...I'll be keeping an eye on you freako...


Edited for typos.

Edited by DwayneEMTP

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We use an Australian brand call “Neann” Long Spine Board and “DHS Aussiscoop” Scoop Stretchers.

I do agree with Dwayne, Scoops are great for limiting movement and immobilisation. I haven’t had much experience with spine boards so I can’t really comment on there performance. I sometimes come to grief with the scoops when we have a pelvic fracture or the crew decided to scoop a spinal injury instead of log roll when were doing motocross, dirt track or snow type standbys. Many times we’ve scooped a patient only to have dirt clog the clips at either end or you’ve scooped up a whole heap of dirt under the patients back.

I have had some trouble with the silver ferno scoops because the immobilisation strap space is quiet limited and it’s harder to immobilise the head compared to the DHS scoop, they seem to be a tad wider and more user friendly. I’m also a fan of using a few rolled up towels and some tape to immobilise a patients head, I find the various head blocks that are available on the market are time consuming, don’t fit scoops, expensive and don’t live up to the same level of immobilisation as a good old towel roll and some tape.

Its quiet an advantage the scoop divides in half, it makes it so much more easier to transfer patients from bed to bed were they can remain supine instead of rolling around. The down side to a scoop is it’s only a lifting device, not designed for transporting over long distances. We run into some trouble with this at the motocross when your knee deep in mud and can’t get an ambulance onto the track and have to walk the patient a few kilometres up a muddy hill. I get around this by having at least 5 people supporting either side, the weight is greatly reduced and if someone slips over in the mud there’s always someone who can take some extra weight. It’s probably not best practise but it’s the only way we can adapt to the situation.

In conclusion, I think a spine board is a spine board… You really can’t add many features to a flat peace of plastic but I’m certainly not the best person to consult on this issue.

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As a guy who does 3hr transfers with people on boards to our nearest trauma centre, I consider myself a bit of an expert :blush:

The standard spine board is made of either wood or plastic, and has multiple handles along the sides with rods through the middle of them (handles) to attatch straps. The classic boards are flat, and offer no padding or temperature buffer. They come in 2 widths and usually only for 500lb pts.


There have been multiple variations and trial boards, but, at least in these parts, none have taken off as a staple in ambulance inventory.

The first variation is to simply concave the board to make the sides offer support to the pts arms, and take some pressure off the spine and transfer it to the surrounding musculature. this also raises the handles off the ground for picking the board up. This design adds to the load bearing capability and they are usually rated for 800lbs.


Some spine boards come apart for ease of storage.



A company called Rescuepad is selling a padded concaved spineboard, which may be the cat's meow. The pad is sealed in plastic, holds up to 1000lbs and is removable for cleaning. You can also get an IV pole attatchment for it. (no I am not a salesmen LOL)



You will most commonly see the cheap, standard, plastic boards out in the field.

Here are some tips for pt comfort.

Occasionally bending the knees can relieve some pressure off the lower back. remember the curvature of the spine.... on skinny people, the lumbar area will not even touch the board. that puts tremendous pressure on the lower spine 9especially with the pelvis strapped down tight) and the thoracic spine/shoulder blades.

Stuff facecloths along the sides of the board around the ribs, they will carry some load and give a rest to the other tissues.

*on concious alert pt's, you can put a heatpack inside a facecloth and slide it under the lumbar area to offer temporary relief of muscle spasms, which are inevetible after lying on a cold plastic board for an extended period. careful... those things are HOT!

One of my favorite things to do if there is no lwr spinal injury suspected *DISCLAIMER: Just telling you what I do... NOT recommending it* I slide a BP cuff under the lumbar spine, and hand it to the pt allowing them to make themselves comfortable. Again: this is a Cx alert pt with no lwr back pain!!

After a while, a doubled up face cloth under the head will be appreciated.

You can put the cot seatbelts through the handles of the spineboard to ensure it will not go anywhere during a sharp corner, and lift the head of the spineboard a few inches and stuff a pillow under it. It is amazing the relief some people feel just going from totally flat, to slightly angled. Be careful not to go too high, the backboard flexes with bumps and could snap or further injure your pt. Just a couple inches is all it takes.

There you go... my 0.02

Edited by mobey

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Always measure the compartment, before ordering backboards. I stick with name brand, and plastic. Plastic is easier to clean, and lighter than wood. Of course, I've always made them myself from marine plywood. A 500lb limit is okay. Our particular brand is Bac-Pak, w/ factory lettering and a unique color that stands out. So we can spot who steals it, and return the favor. B)

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Always measure the compartment, before ordering backboards.

Thisd is sooo true. I don't know if the USA uses crestline ambulances, but the new ones do not hold a full width spineboard in the side compartment.

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The OP on this string has reopened an old discussion. Therefore, I'll repeat myself (actually, the Instructor/Coordinators at the FDNY EMS Command Academy), that the scoop type stretcher does not provide support directly under the spine.

Others state that no pressure on the spine is a good idea. I am not into the research end of the biz, so until the medical director, and the NY State DoH tell me otherwise...

By the way, I seem to recall that one can transport a patient on a scoop to where they can be placed onto the long spine board, and the combination is allowed, but I'd probably be "writ up" if I left the patient on the scoop only, on top of the wheeled stretcher.

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The Scoop.. Is what was formerly known as, the orthopedic stretcher, great for hip fx's, etc.. But I've read that it's no longer suggested for suspected fractures of the spine. Perhaps the newer models with the same principals are okay, but we still have a one with a Velcro "Pillow", instead of fully supported structure. Horrible idea. I have scooped onto a spine board in a patient with severe pain.

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