What is the proper technique for spine boarding?

Spine boarding is a technique that is used to transport an athlete for emergency care whenever a cervical spine injury is suspected. It is important to note that if a cervical spine injury is suspected, the individual should not be moved and if any equipment being worn, not be removed, unless necessary and only by someone trained in its removal. There are multiple techniques for properly spine boarding an individual, such as the log-roll, scoop stretcher and 6-plus-person lift, but no matter what technique is used, it is imperative that the injured person remain still with their head placed in a neutral position in line with the rest of the person’s body. The person who is nearest the injured person’s head will be in charge and stabilize the head while applying traction. If the injured person is lying face down, then the log-roll method should be used, but if the individual is face up, then the lift and slide technique should be implemented because it produces less motion, but the log roll method is still acceptable. When log rolling an individual, one rescuer is at the head and applies traction and stabilization to the injured person’s head. Three additional rescuers should be stationed on one side of the injured person at the shoulders, hips and legs. The injured person is then rolled towards the rescuers and a fifth rescuer places the spine board behind the injured person at a 45 degree angle to the ground. The injured person is then rolled toward the backboard and lowered to the ground. When doing a six-plus-person lift, one rescuer is at the head and applies traction and stabilization to the injured person’s head. Two additional rescuers are placed on each side of the athlete at the shoulders and hips while a sixth person is in charge of the spine board. When the rescuer at the head commands, the 5 rescuers lift the athlete six inches in the air, while the sixth rescuer slides the spine board under the injured person. Once the athlete is physically on the spine board it is important to secure the injured athlete to the board by strapping the athlete at the chest, pelvis and thighs. The head should then be immobilized by placing towels or specifically developed blocks on each side of the head. Lastly, the injured person’s head should be secured to the board.

(This answer provided for NATA by Michael McNicol, ATC.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.