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perform movements incorrectly (i.e., awkward positioning), and will repeat the incorrect movements (i.e., repetition)—a trifecta
that raises the risk of injury to the provider. 10
Research has also shown that, in order
to prevent this, the provider must remain
conscious of the lifting and moving process
throughout the call. For instance,
To lift and move safely, infor-
mation is available for providers in
training and their instructors. In
EMS training, the topic shouldn’t be
glossed over, but repeatedly reviewed through-
out the period of instruction.
In the psychomotor portion of the class,
while performing scenarios, body mechanic
critique should be focused on, and repetition
of these movements should be done weekly.
Classroom scenarios often begin with the
patient on the floor and end with the student
verbalizing how they’d move the patient for
transport. Rather than simply verbalizing this,
EMS educators should prioritize the hands-on
practice of field techniques in the safe environment of the classroom.
EMS providers shouldn’t leave the classroom without demonstrating proficiency in
lifting and moving, in order to prevent injury
not only to themselves, but to their partners
and the patient. The classroom is an optimal
place to make mistakes and learn, not the field.
EMS providers are prone to work-related
injuries, and developing poor lifting and moving habits is one of the quickest ways to end a
career and negatively affect daily life.
As in other areas of patient care, lifting and
moving has experienced a rapid
expansion of technology. Alternative
lifting devices such as the Binder
Lift, CombiCarrier II from Hartwell
Medical, the Ferno Scoop Stretcher
and others have multiple handles
to facilitate lifting assistance from
Driven by industry leaders Ferno
and Stryker, significant innovations
in the traditional patient movement
apparatus have been implemented.
These innovations are designed to minimize
loads on the musculature of the providers while
improving patient safety and comfort.
Traditionally designed stretchers have either
an X-frame or an H-frame, and the force provided by the EMS providers has typically powered it. Although this sort of stretcher has
existed for decades and has proven to be effective, the strain it places on providers’ backs is
Fortunately, power stretchers are now proving to be a major improvement in lifting and
moving technology in regard to musculoskeletal strains and sprains among EMS providers.
(See Figure 4, p. 46.) One recent study found
that power stretchers result in reduced muscle
activity from six different areas on the body
when operated by a provider. 11
Using 16 EMS providers as subjects, electromyography (EMG) activity was measured
with electrode placement at six different locations on the body (forearm flexor, bicep, middle deltoid, right descending trapezius and
bilateral erector spine).
The stimulation of these muscle groups
was measured when the providers operated both stretchers, and also when different
amounts of weight were placed on the stretchers. Research results showed statistically significant reductions in muscle activity. 11 These
reductions in muscle activity may result in fewer
injuries, leading to a longer career in EMS.
As with any technology, significant differences in design and capability exist between
manufacturers and, as such, comparisons must
be done to determine which stretcher best suits
the needs of EMS providers.
Overestimating how much
you or your partner can
lift can result in injury to
both you & the patient.