Paramedics Course – Straps and Head Blocks

Straps and Head Blocks

Micro-lecture by the Australian Paramedical College


In today’s micro-lecture, Australian Paramedical College Hon. Snr. Lecturer Sam Willis talks about strapping your patient onto a scoop stretcher;  a delicate subject area due to research indicating it shouldn’t be done unless really essential.

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Straps and Head Blocks

In today’s, micro-lecture, we’re going to talk about strapping your patient onto a scoop stretcher. Now, the whole process of spinely immobilising a patient is currently a delicate area because there’s a growing body of evidence that says we shouldn’t really be doing it unless absolutely necessary. That’s the key take home message here, absolutely necessary. Now, the good news is you’ll have the NEXUS Criteria available to you to help you to decide if it is actually absolutely necessary. The NEXUS Criteria is based upon five key points. It’s five signs and symptoms.

Now, once you’ve decided that you need to scoop your patient onto the stretcher, you need to go through a process of log rolling your patient, attaching the scoop stretcher, whichever one it is. Here we just have an orthopedic stretcher or a scoop stretcher. It’s your typical stretcher that you’ll still find in practice. There are different versions of this, including the Combi Carrier and other versions of the scoop stretcher. What you’ll particularly notice on this one is that there are straps and head blocks and that’s what we’re going to talk about. Once you’ve log rolled your patient, you’ve got them onto the scoop stretcher.

Try not to catch them here in this part, so it’s that easy to catch your patient when you’re clipping it in. The next thing you need to do is to strap them onto the scoop stretcher. The reason being is two main areas. Number one, if your patient is going to vomit and it’s highly likely, particularly if you have given strong pain relief, you need to make sure you can log roll the entire scoop stretcher to prevent any injury to the C spine. Also, if your patient starts to have a convulsion or seizure while they’re on this, you don’t want them to end up on the floor and have further injuries, so strapping down is really, really important. Now, there are different types of straps.

On this image, you’ve just got the two straps. But as you will know through the readings, there are different methods for strapping your patient. For example, some text will tell you to strap across and then one around the hip and then a figure of eight around the feet. But whichever method you choose, you’re actually just asking yourself, “Is this effective?” Typically you can see here a set of head blocks, which are used to keep the patient still. Now, remembering that if you’ve assessed the patient that’s requiring some kind of immobilization, then you need to keep them still somehow.

More and more often we’re moving away from using head blocks and just using rolled blankets on the side of the head just because it’s less intrusive. But regardless, you need to strap them down. Now, there are different types of straps, including these spider straps. These are just your typical black straps that you just place through each of these holes and back on themselves. Now, the spider straps are just Velcro straps. Some people love them. Some people hate them. They get a bit messy inside the bag, so they can take a bit of a prolonged period of time to actually use. Whatever your choice, you have to ask yourself, “Is it effectively doing its job?”

You will get a chance to practice all of this at your face-to-face workshops and students tend to really enjoy the hands-on part.

For more information about courses and becoming a Medic / Paramedic or any other professional in the pre-hospital emergency health care sector visit Contact the Australian Paramedical College today:


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