|Consider carefully whether the benefits of moving somebody will outweigh the risks. If you are able to seek appropriate shelter and send or call for help, it is generally considered safer to stay where you are, particularly at night or if the weather is bad. Alongside the danger of getting lost or falling, carrying a stretcher comes with the risk of damaging the backs of those carrying it.
PREPARATION FOR LOADING AND CARRYING
Consider the following:
- Have you got enough people to lift the victim safely onto the stretcher?
- What are the conditions of the ground underneath your feet? Are you liable to slip or sink, or is it on a step slope? Will the ground move?
- Does everyone involved understand what you are doing and how you are planning to do it?
- Do you or anyone else in your party have any injuries or conditions that could be greatly worsened by the lift?
- Are there any other factors that may hinder or prevent you from safely carrying out the lift?
Try to eliminate or reduce any of the conditions that the answers to these questions identify as a risk. If in doubt, do not attempt to lift the stretcher and seek shelter while waiting for help to arrive.
GETTING A PERSON ON TO THE STRETCHER
It may be possible for you to lift the person directly onto the stretches. Ideally this should be done with a minimum of two people. Bring the stretcher to the victim and lay it down as close as you can without being in your way. Decide who will take the top half of the person to be lifted.
- Sit the person up and ask her to cross or fold her arms across her chest.
- Squatting behind the victim, slide your hands under her arms, taking hold of her wrists or lower arms.
- Ask your partner to squat beside the victim and pass their arms under her thighs, taking hold of the legs.
- The person at the head end takes control and will determine the timing of the lift. When ready, working together and keeping your backs straight, rise slowly and move the victim onto the stretcher.
SURVIVAL BAG/FLYSHEET TECHNIQUE
If you are using the survival bag/flysheet technique, it will be easier to put the stretcher underneath the victim before you add the poles. The easiest way for this to be done is to use one of two methods:
Lay the bag/flysheet next to the victim and gather up approximately half of the fabric on the side closest to her, placing it as close as you can to body. Turn the victim onto her side and place the bundle as close as you can to her body, then and gently roll her bag/sheet out from the sides. You are then ready to add poles.
Concertina-fold the top and bottom ends of the bag toward the center with one person on each side of the victim, placing the folded bag/sheet under the hollow in the small of her back (if you need more room you can gently lift her hips). Together, pull the bottom part down toward the victim’s feet and then the other half of the bag/sheet can be pulled up toward her head. You can then add the poles.
The following principles will reduce your risk of injury when performing any lift or moving and handling.
One person should take the lead at all times—usually the person guiding the head. Take regular breaks as needed and move slowly and carefully.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other.
- Bend at your hips and your knees, not at your back. Keep your back straight but not rigid.
- Get a secure grip of the stretcher. Raise your head.
- Use your strongest muscles (in your thighs) to lift, keeping your elbows close to your body.