Johnson County paramedics eliminating long spine boards - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Johnson County paramedics eliminating long spine boards

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Demonstration Demonstration

Johnson County paramedics will no longer strap crash victims onto a long spine board.

After careful consideration, county officials believe the boards are unnecessary and slow down the trip to a hospital.

The hope is to reduce patient discomfort and the boards themselves can have their own risks, officials say.

For decades, the boards have been standard practice at wreck scenes in which a patient may have had a cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine injury. They immobilize the patient's entire body.

But county officials say they are used only because of historical dogma and institutional EMS culture, and have no evidence-based justification.

"There are studies showing putting someone on a long board can cause harm, can cause pressure sores, discomfort, can make it more difficult to assess them and reduce their ability to breathe fully," EMS Chief Brad Cusick said.

Paramedics will still have a C-collar to immobilize patients, who will need to remain rigid as much as possible and will be secured to a cot by straps. 

The long boards will remain on the ambulances if needed to get a patient onto an ambulance and a cot but will be removed before transport.

Johnson County's change is effective Saturday and is expected to shave off two minutes from the trip to the hospital. Kansas City, KS, firefighters are training and phasing out their long boards as well.

Physician groups including the American Academy of Neurological Surgeons and the Kansas Medical Advisory County support the change.

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