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Home > Topics > Fire-EMS

Texas EMS limits backboard use

In many cases using a backboard can do more harm to a patient than it does good

By Meredith Shamburger
The Dallas Morning News

PLANO, Texas — Backboards have been a central tool for Plano Fire-Rescue over the last 30 years. EMS workers use them to help lift patients off the ground, carry them to ambulances and keep them immobile during the trip to the hospital.

But now the department has become one of the first in Texas to adopt new guidelines on backboards that scale back their use, based on a joint statement from two national physicians’ organizations. “Sometimes they may cause more harm than good,” said Dr. Mark Gamber, the department’s EMS medical director.

Beginning in late July, the department implemented a policy limiting backboard use to certain situations when a patient’s spine might need to be immobilized, such as blunt trauma or spinal pain. If a patient is walking around or doesn’t complain of back pain, he or she will be asked to lie still on a softer cot when being taken to the hospital.

Full story: Plano Fire-Rescue easing away from using backboards to transport patients

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Colleen McNeal Pearce Colleen McNeal Pearce Friday, September 05, 2014 4:00:45 PM I personally think thats a great idea. Hope it catches on everywhere
Tim Burley Tim Burley Friday, September 05, 2014 4:09:49 PM We have already instituted this here in Sabine County!
JillandShane Steinbach JillandShane Steinbach Friday, September 05, 2014 4:24:35 PM Commen sense in ems. Love it.
Marcus Stanton Marcus Stanton Friday, September 05, 2014 5:16:31 PM I work in Portland Oregon and we've been doing this for almost a year now.
Wyatt Blair Wyatt Blair Friday, September 05, 2014 5:30:16 PM Absolutely brilliant!
David Brown David Brown Friday, September 05, 2014 9:04:49 PM About time for some common sense policies!
Bob Bryant Bob Bryant Friday, September 05, 2014 9:23:58 PM I wish our LMSA would make these changes too!
Darryl Wilfong Darryl Wilfong Saturday, September 06, 2014 7:46:21 AM Finally, Baxter Larmon ranting have paid off.
Waldo Treehorn Waldo Treehorn Saturday, September 06, 2014 9:13:47 AM Like Forrest Gump liked to say..."One less thing."
Thom Swan Thom Swan Saturday, September 06, 2014 9:36:11 AM In the late 70s and early 80s we limited spine board use to pt's who were symptomatic or high index of suspicion and it wasn't a problem that I can recall. In my current work setting, putting a patient on a board dooms them to stay on that board for hours, often over horribly rough roads. I'm glad to see this change. I'll be forwarding the article to my medical director when I return to work.
Ian Phillips Ian Phillips Saturday, September 06, 2014 11:10:05 AM We have been doing this in Lubbock at UMC EMS for over a year now and it is working great. Decreasing pain and anxiety and actually been able to catch more c-spine fractures this way
Matthew Whitt Matthew Whitt Saturday, September 06, 2014 12:44:13 PM Yeah, I'm pretty sure that Plano Fire is one of the LAST (not first) here in Texas to start limiting backboard use.
Michael Tackitt Michael Tackitt Saturday, September 06, 2014 2:18:52 PM UMC EMS in Lubbock has doing it for over a year, and it has worked well for us.
Michele Logue Michele Logue Saturday, September 06, 2014 6:40:17 PM I believe that with a thorough assessment and history taking in the moi backboards and spinal immobilization can be eliminated
Don Lundy Don Lundy Sunday, September 07, 2014 5:17:02 AM Recommended by NAEMSP in 1986. Charleston SC has had this protocol for some time. Science-based - who knew?!
Amanda Jayne Hill Amanda Jayne Hill Monday, September 08, 2014 8:57:39 PM When you have border chaos & ISIS coming your way because of America the blind, I can't say I blame them for throwing out the boards.
Glen Killam Glen Killam Sunday, September 14, 2014 8:02:04 AM Been doing this statewide in NH for a while.

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