The concept of EMS safety is broad, encompassing everything from securing the scene of an emergency to the safe operation of emergency vehicles. And while patient and provider safety are prioritized during each call, injuries during patient transport still occur with some regularity.
First responders rely on a variety of tools to avoid such injuries, however, not all of them are used at the correct time or in an appropriate way. For example, a lift sheet is intended to carry a patient, but all too often is used as a lifting device, creating a scenario where both providers and patients could get hurt.
Unfortunately, this leads to a large number of back injuries among EMS providers, hampering their ability to provide quality patient care and sometimes contributing to the end of their careers. Studies of prehospital emergency care have noted that among nonfatal EMS injuries, roughly 42% affected the lower trunk, and half of these incidents involved lifting or moving a patient.
While statistics on patient injuries during transport are difficult to come by, you’d be hard-pressed to find an EMS provider who hasn’t personally experienced or knows a colleague who has experienced a patient being dropped or sustaining some type of skin tear, bruising or shoulder separation as a result of being moved.
As lifting injuries consistently affect both patients and providers, it’s time to rethink the tools that are being used for patient transport. Rather than relying on a lift sheet or some other improvised system when it comes time to move a patient, prehospital providers can use Binder Lift – the only lift device scientifically proven to reduce biomechanical strain sustained by EMS providers when lifting patients in the prehospital setting.
ACHIEVING GREATER CONTROL
Moving a patient from point A to point B is anything but straightforward, particularly when working with bariatric patients or those who have fallen in a tub or other tight space. Not only do EMS providers have to ensure that they don’t injure a patient while lifting, but they also need to reduce the risk of dropping the individual.
By using a device like Binder Lift that attaches to the patient, first responders can have better control for the duration of the patient transport.
“The patient can’t fall out of the device, so the chance of dropping a patient is much lower,” said Rick Binder, CEO at Binder Lift. “If you stand them up with a bed sheet, if they lose their balance, get lightheaded or anything like that, you’re not in control of your patient anymore and you have nothing keeping them from falling.”
Binder Lift helps provide control during patient lifting through friction around the patient’s torso, however, wearing the device is very comfortable. A cushion runs around the top of the device and rests in the patient’s armpits, further helping to reduce the risk of skin tears, hand-shaped bruises and shoulder injuries.
EASIER ON YOUR BACK
Patient safety is critical during transport, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of EMS provider safety. Binder Lift can be used in a range of scenarios and takes only a few minutes to use.
Available in standard and bariatric sizes, Binder Lift helps EMS providers safely lift patients of any size with ease. Nylon and vinyl options are available based on your agency’s needs with both materials featuring a design that’s easy to wash and disinfect.
With 24 to 32 attached handles, depending on the size, EMS providers can leverage a wide range of grip options and harness their leg strength to lift a patient safely and securely. Since first responders find themselves lifting patients on nearly every shift, using tools that help to reduce strain on their backs is key.
COMBINING TOOLS AND TRAINING
While having a device like Binder Lift available for every call significantly helps to increase EMS provider and patient safety, there’s still more that agencies can do to ensure injuries are kept to a minimum.
“We need to equip our providers where they are doing the most dangerous work and where they’re getting hurt the most,” said Binder. “We also need to train the most where they are getting hurt the most.”
First responders can sustain an injury during any number of regular shift activities, particularly when they haven’t received adequate training. For many providers, lifting patients presents one of the largest areas of opportunity for increased training.
A 2019 survey of EMS1 readers highlighted just how many departments could improve their training efforts, especially when working with bariatric patients.
Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said they do not feel equipped with the training and equipment needed to safely move and transport bariatric patients. 45% said they received no bariatric-patient-related training at all within the last year.
Learning how to safely transport patients is key, but becoming familiar with when and how to use devices like Binder Lift is just as important.
“A lot of departments train on how to use the equipment they have, but they don’t actually train on when to use that equipment,” said Binder. “We’re not educating providers enough on when they should be using these techniques. There’s a pretty big gap between training and what should be happening in the field.”
Safe transport can only occur when patient and provider safety is prioritized at the outset of a call, and relying on proper training coupled with helpful tools is key. When providers can avoid injury by using devices like Binder Lift, there’s no question that patients will have a far safer transport experience.
This article originally appeared in Safe transport, from point A to B.