Medical stretchers are a commonly used tool all across the medical industry. When an emergency occurs and somebody is unable to safely transport themselves to a medical facility by their own means, a medical stretcher is often used if the individual is unable to walk or a wheelchair is not a feasible mode of transportation. Medical stretchers are used for emergencies and for non-medical emergencies.
Key Events in the History of Medical Stretchers
The medical stretcher has come quite a long way since its humble beginning. Although it is very probable that a stretcher of some sort dates back to ancient times for things such as war, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when it was invented. Below we will break down all that we know about the history of medical stretchers.
The First Recorded Stretcher
The history of stretchers dates back to at least the 14th century in France. The first stretcher may or may not have served a medical use. The reason we even know of its existence is due to a manuscript that was created in 1380. This French manuscript describes a frame that uses wicker to act as a stretcher-like bed. In any case, this is the first piece of evidence that we have of humanity using stretchers.
Used for Mountain Rescue
Mountain rescue was one of the pioneer reasons that medical stretchers began to receive modern medical development. The reason for this was simple. People would go up in the mountains and get injured. If help arrived, they weren’t able to assist them without making things worse.
The need for better rescue technology was eventually what led to the invention of some of the prequels to the modern medical stretcher. Mountain rescue dating back to the early 1800s was a point in time where we can definitively argue the existence of stretchers used for medical purposes.
War Spawns Further Development
During the 19th century, the large presence of warfare all across the globe spurred further advancements for medical stretchers. Like many other innovations, the use of stretchers in warfare resulted to address a problem that needed a solution.
In the field of combat, things happen quickly and people get mortally wounded in a matter of seconds. If the medics are unable to also act quickly and transport injured people off the immediate fire zone, they risk their lives and the lives of those already injured. This is where stretchers originally came into play.
The Red Cross & St. John Ambulance Association
The first modern medical stretcher was financed and developed by the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance Association. Drawing upon the inspiration of their predecessors, they took some of the basic ideas of previous stretchers and advanced them further to produce a unique modern tool that is still used today.
The stretchers created by these people were some of the first used in the field of combat in the late 19th century. Henri Dunant, the co-founder of the Red Cross eventually received a Nobel Prize for his work in developing medical stretchers.
The Modern Medical Industry is Where We Find the Most Innovation
Although some of the first stretchers were clearly better than not having any sort of stretcher at all, the modern medical industry is where much of the innovation came into play. For example, things such as neck stability, sturdy strapping, and the ability to easily load into an ambulance are all examples of medical stretcher improvements we find present in the more modern stretcher models.
As you can see, the medical stretcher has come a long way since its origins to become a piece of equipment we find used in all hospitals and medical transportation services worldwide.
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