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This is a commonly used ambulance stretcher or cot. A very important piece of equipment on the back of an ambulance. It aids in movement and transporting a patient safely to and from the hospital and also to and from the actual area of injury to the vehicle itself. There are a few things that we need to understand about a cot stretcher and the first is the harness system. The harness system goes over the shoulders across the waist and across the thighs on the legs. No patient should ever move on a cot stretcher without all of those points fastened and adjusted correctly. Otherwise, we have a risk of the patient falling off. The next thing that is very, very important are the sides. The side of this cot itself has a little clip, when you push the clip the side drops level so we can take a patient on and off, clearly without any obstruction. That also needs to be up and locked in place before patients are moved at all on a stretcher.

Looking around the stretcher we have a fluids line holder. Which adjusts to put fluid bags up whilst we transport a patient to a hospital or while we transport them again, from the scene of injury to the vehicle. Again, when we're transferring the patient, these need to be stowed correctly out of the way, because they are a bit of a nuisance when you're trying to work on a patient on board the stretcher. At the end of the stretcher, we have two buttons at the top and two buttons below. These are the lift and lower buttons. The days of carrying stretchers has gone, nowadays everything is battery powered. So, by pushing the positive button, the stretcher will lift. By pushing the negative button, the stretcher lowers. As soon as we let go of the button, it's locked and fixed in place. There are also two handles, two top handles, two bottom handles. Two top handles are for moving the patient around with the pivot wheels at the back of the stretcher. The two handles at the bottom are for loading the stretcher onto the back of the ambulance when it's at height. There are also numerous red points when you push the point, the stretcher will lift and lock to elevate the legs to help postural drainage of blood back to bring somebody's blood pressure up and they can be lowered again, back down.

There are two little red tabs one on either side, which when pulled will create a bend in the stretcher allowing again, postural drainage and a more comfortable position for abdominal injuries. Also at the back of the stretcher, there is another adjusting strap handle which allows the head of the stretcher or cot to lift or lower to any point we require. Once we let go of the handle, it is fixed in place. At the front of the cot, there's another handle for a front person to handle the stretcher whilst raised to help steer and there are also foot brakes on two of the wheels at the bottom of the stretcher. To lock it into place so as it doesn't move whilst we load or unload a patient. Also, this stretcher has a very useful little adaption when you pull the two little red levers the stretcher itself shortens, which means that we can get it in and out of tight or confined spaces and turn it on a smaller base. When it goes back into the ambulance however that has to be returned to its full length because that is the point that locks it into the ambulance. When we move a stretcher we have to be careful of stability. It's a two-person operation the person at the front steers the stretcher and the person at the back pushes the stretcher.

It needs to be in a raised position so we're not hunched over or bending down a lifting position. The idea that they lift and lower is to get them to a safe working height for me to actually move the patient because they are designed to move quite heavy patients. To load the stretcher it needs to be fully extended up, in the up position, which it currently is. The lead end goes into the ambulance itself, and then the legs fold up underneath. Clearing the ground and allowing me to progress forward with the stretcher. Okay?

When the stretcher locates into the head end, the rear end then locks in with the locking handle. Always make sure the stretcher is fixed, before moving off. If it's not fixed, the stretcher is allowed to free flow in the back of the ambulance, which is dangerous. It needs to lock properly, be checked before moving away. When the stretcher is in the ambulance, the buttons allow you to move the stretcher, actually in the back of the vehicle as well as outside of the vehicle.