Home Medicine The Start Of A New Trend In EMS

The Start Of A New Trend In EMS


At least I hope it is. Johnson County, KS has announced the end of routine C Spine immobilization using the long back board.

You can read the entire directive at this link. You should read the entire protocol as it’s not that long and contains some references for further research.

The indications for immobilization don’t really change, but the technique does.











Sorry, that’s an image of the protocol, my Adobe-Fu is weak today.

Hopefully this will encourage other EMS agencies to re evaluate their immobilization techniques, which is something most of them haven’t done since the mid 1980s.

Please comment, but I warn you. I don’t want to hear any “My instructor told me that his former partners partner’s original EMT instructor told them during class about this story he heard from his instructor about a guy that wasn’t boarded and became a quad.” stories because as Rogue Medic would tell us that’s not science, it’s anecdote. Actually it’s not even anecdote. Nor is it even a war story. It’s more like a Fairy Tale.

And we all know the difference between a War Story and a Fairy Tale, right?


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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. There is virtually zero correlation between pain and the presence or absence of a spinal fracture.
    The signs/symptoms that matter are weakness, parasthesia and inability to move on command.

    As an aside many radiolgy techs like patients on back boards for one reason only. Due to staff cuts
    in most facilities radiology techs often have ZERO help, this means they must move patients on and
    off imaging equipment tables alone. For this the backboard is very helpful, asidew from that it is a problem
    rather than an aid more often than not.

  2. AMEN !!!!! and I say it again: AMEN !!!
    I hope to pass the tests & become a real, live EMT this spring but till then I will continue to say “I’m just a First Responder” — BUT nonetheless I know discomfort when I haz it. And I had it Wednesday when I slipped & fell on an icy parking lot, whacked the back of my cranium a good one, & couldn’t raise my head. Someone called EMS & there I was, an EMT-wannabe, all packed up & tied down safely & very uncomfortably… for 2 & 1/2 hours…till the ER doc decided the CT scans showed I was okay to be un-immobilized. (sigh) & yes, the radiologists didn’t have much help. But we put a man on the moon, can’t we put a patient onto a radiology table ???
    I spent my time in purgatory mentally designing new & improved versions of the long board, all patented of course.
    But I like this way better! yes, if we can’t pad them all, then retire the things please.

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