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.