A Stretcher Trolley, litter, or pram is an apparatus used for moving patients who require medical care. A basic type (cot or litter) must be carried by two or more people. A wheeled stretcher (known as a gurney, trolley, bed or cart) is often equipped with variable height frames, wheels, tracks, or skids. In American English, a wheeled stretcher is referred to as a gurney.
Stretchers are primarily used in acute out-of-hospital care situations by emergency medical services (EMS), military, and search and rescue personnel. In medical forensics the right arm of a corpse is left hanging off the stretcher to let paramedics know it is not a wounded patient. They are also used to hold prisoners during lethal injections in the United States.
- Simple stretchers are the most rudimentary type. They are lightweight and portable, made of canvas or other synthetic material suspended between two poles or tubular aluminum frame. Many are stored as disaster supplies and are often former military equipment.
- The folding stretcher, also known as a top deck or collapsible stretcher, is similar in design to the simple stretcher, but features one or more hinged points of articulation to allow the stretcher to be collapsed into a more compact form for easier handling or storage. Some models may even allow the patient to sit upright in a Fowler’s or Semi-Fowler’s position.
- The scoop stretcher is used for lifting patients, for instance from the ground onto an ambulance stretcher or onto a spinal board. The two ends of the stretcher can be detached from each other, splitting the stretcher into two longitudinal halves. To load a patient, one or both ends of the stretcher are detached, the halves placed under the patient from either side and fastened back together. With obese patients, the possibility exists of accidentally pinching the patient’s back when closing the stretcher, so care must be made not to injure them when carrying out this procedure.
- The litter, also known as a rescue basket or Stokes basket, is designed to be used where there are obstacles to movement or other hazards: for example, in confined spaces, on slopes, in wooded terrain. Typically it is shaped to accommodate an adult in a face up position and it is used in search and rescue operations. The person is strapped into the basket, making safe evacuation possible. The litter has raised sides and often includes a removable head/torso cover for patient protection. After the person is secured in the litter, the litter may be wheeled, carried by hand, mounted on an ATV, towed behind skis, snowmobile, or horse, lifted or lowered on high angle ropes, or hoisted by helicopter.