An ambulance stretcher is a piece of medical equipment used to carry a person while lying down. Specifically designed to be transported in an ambulance, it is used in conjunction with its facilities. An ambulance stretcher is deployed from an ambulance upon reaching an injured person who requires lifting and transporting to hospital. It can be carried by two paramedics, one at each end, and is often attached to a wheelbase to be pushed along on wheels.
Stretchers are used in the medical profession to carry an injured person when they are incapacitated to the extent that they cannot walk, move, or if they are unconscious. Some injuries, even if unconfirmed, require the use of an ambulance stretcher, for example, a suspected neck injury. A neck brace might be put onto a person at the scene of an accident, before they are placed on a stretcher to be carried away. The stretcher removes the need for the injured person to make unnecessary movements, potentially worsening their condition.
A stretcher is made from a lightweight metal, usually aluminum, and is a long rectangular shape of a comfortable length and width for a person to lie upon. It has carrying handles at each end so that medical professionals can conveniently lift it. Stretchers are sometimes padded for comfort, but are used without padding depending on the injury, such as a spinal injury.
This carrying device is designed to fit and be transported inside an ambulance. Due to limited space and weight restrictions, stretchers are created as small as possible but still big enough to carry a large person. They have special features to allow them to be easily removed, reinstalled and locked in position in the ambulance, before departing for hospital.
Where there is poor access, such as over a grassy area where wheels cannot roll, an ambulance stretcher can be carried. It can also be conveniently pushed on a wheeled frame over smoother surfaces. The frame can increase the speed of movement, for example, when the patient arrives at hospital and they are rushed to the accident and emergency department.
Pushing the ambulance stretcher on a frame is a much quicker and more stable way of transporting the patient. Paramedics therefore often have free hands to hold any medical equipment that the patient is using, for example, a drip. Straps are used on ambulance stretchers, not for restraint but for safety. They keep the injured person secure on the stretcher while in transit.