When a patient is too ill or injured to transport themselves to a hospital, it's up to the first responders to get them there quickly. An ambulance stretcher is one of the most important tools in an ambulance, and keeps the patient secure and steady until they arrive at an emergency room. But with the variety of ambulance stretchers available, it can be difficult to narrow down what features are needed for your vehicle. This is why we're breaking down the features that should be taken into account when making a decision.
What Sets Ambulance Stretchers Apart?
An ambulance stretcher is more versatile than your typical manual stretcher or hospital-style stretcher. Ambulance stretchers are mobile, thickly padded, and narrowly shaped to fit inside an ambulance with first responders around them. In addition, these types of stretchers can be collapsible and transformable (see details in the list below). They're a far cry from the basic manual stretcher of handholds and a fabric support.
As you might expect, ambulance stretchers come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, but these five features are essential to keep in mind while shopping.
The Top 5 Must-Have Features
1 - Lightweight Frame
Most ambulance stretchers are incredibly durable, while also remaining lightweight for easy loading and unloading of the patient. An aluminum X-frame is recommended, as the X-frame can quickly be collapsed during the loading process. Shock frames are a plus, making the loading process more comfortable for the patient and less arduous on the responders.
A great example is the Ferno 35-A Mobile Transport X-Frame Ambulance Cot, which not only features a fully-aluminum frame, but is also equipped with the shock absorbing feature. It's lightweight, durable, and has an adjustable backrest. Which brings us to the next feature.
2 - Transforming Traits
Ambulance stretchers need to be accommodating to different types of emergency scenarios, including those where the patient needs to sit up during transport, instead of lying down. Therefore, a stretcher with an adjustable foot and head section is a plus. This versatile feature allows responders to quickly secure a patient to the stretcher, and transport them down sets of stairs or around narrow areas, all without sacrificing mobility or the lightweight frame.
The Ferno 28-Z PROFlexx Ambulance Chair-Cot is a spring-loaded frame that can quickly transform from chair to stretcher in seconds. With a swing-up undercarriage, it allows for "one-man" use, leaving responders with more room and hands for life-saving equipment. The Stryker M-1 Roll-in System Ambulance Cot also features a chair mode, in addition to having a removable litter and a steer lock system for easy maneuverability.
3 - Bariatric Features
Special care is needed for patients who are over a certain weight limit, and investing in a bariatric-style cot can increase preparedness. Bariatric ambulance stretchers are lower to the ground to make loading the patient easier, and have strong push/pull handles to help transport the patient quickly.
Stryker offers the 6083 MX-PRO Bariatric Transport Cot, which features belt extensions, a safety bar, a pneumatically assisted backrest, and seven height positions. However, for those who want to add bariatric accessories to their existing Ferno stretchers, MFI carries Large Body Surface (LBS) Boards and corresponding LBS mattresses. These boards can be attached to Ferno stretchers in order to increase the surface area for larger patients.
4 - MRI Compatibility
In the situation where a patient needs an immediate MRI, there are unique ambulance stretchers available that have been constructed to be safe for use with MR Conditional at 3-Tesla or less. They're non-magnetic, but still maintain other useful features like adjustable backrests, an X-frame, and incredible mobility.
The Ferno 35-ANM Non-Magnetic Mobile Transporter Cot is one such example, while also being one of the lightest cots available with a 500 lb load capacity. It's safe for use with MRI equipment, so there's no need to shift or transfer the patient.
5 - Power Assist
When it comes to reliable loading and unloading of a stretcher, there is technology available that removes some of the burden from the responders without sacrificing load capacity. Enter the Stryker Power-PRO system, which uses hydraulics and an electric power assist to raise and lower the stretcher automatically. By using this power assist feature, responders can reduce the risk of workplace strain or injury.
In addition, customers can purchase the Performance-LOAD system. This load system will automatically lock the stretcher in place along a guided platform, and charge the stretcher battery whenever the stretcher is loaded into the vehicle.
Ambulance Stretcher Accessories
While purchasing the right ambulance stretcher can come with the features you desire, no stretcher would be complete without a few essential accessories. At MFI Medical, customers can find lifting handles, push/pull handles, oxygen bottle holders, IV poles, extra patient straps, restraints, storage, and equipment brackets. By equipping the ambulance stretcher with these tools of the trade, first responders will feel more prepared to handle any emergency situation and carry vital equipment with them.
Explore the MFI Medical store for a wide variety of unique ambulance stretchers and compatible accessories. Feel free to contact our team if you have any questions on finding the stretcher that fits your needs.
Editor’s Note: Information, prices, and products are subject to change. Please visit product listings or contact MFI for most up to date information.