The first aid stretcher is used to immobilize and carry trauma patients, but it can actually cause or worsen injury in spinal cord patients because of its inflexibility. In a mission to design an improved stretcher, researchers recently developed a new tool called the Emergency Carpet.
The Emergency Carpet consists of an empty fabric bag and ingredients to create moldable polyurethane material. First, the polyurethane material is poured into the bag. Then the patient is placed on top of the bag, while the bag creates a rigid, but conformable mold around the patient. In a test of 20 spinal cord patients, the Emergency Carpet did not produce any further injury or deterioration.
The Emergency Carpet can be assembled in five minutes, and it can be assembled in flat or complex terrain, in air, or in water. In addition, the carpet is x-ray permeable, which means that a patient can be placed in a CT or MRI scan without having to be taken out of the carpet, reducing the risk for further injury.
Liu Y-S, Feng Y-P, Xie J-X, et al. A novel first aid stretcher for immobilization and transportation of spine injured patients. PLoS One. (July 2012).