On Monday 15th October I attended a meeting at Barton Mills with Paul Henry and David Sexby to participate in a further review of potential carry chairs which could become the standard across the Trust when the next generation of ambulances are delivered. There are three carry chairs in the running, they all have four wheels and in no particular order they are the Ibex:
The Ibex is, in my opinion, a no-frills carry chair, easy to use, but when folded it takes up a tall space and is also slightly cumbersome to carry. The rear handles are easily extended or shortened but there is currently nothing supplied to prevent the patient’s head striking the extending post.
The second carry chair which we took under consideration was the Stryker:
Quickly recognised by its distinct corporate yellow colour, the Stryker has possibly the more comfortable leg position for the patient, but that all depends upon the size of the patient occupying the seat. The Stryker has a head support attached to the rear handles so that when the handles are extended the gap above the seat is infilled to provide support for the patient.
The third carry chair under review is the Ferno powered carry chair:
All three carry chairs have permanently attached tracks, but the main difference between the Ferno and the other two is that it has an integral power unit which can drive the chair upstairs or along the ground if the chair is tilted backwards onto its tracks.
The Ibex and Stryker do not have arm rests for the patient, while the Stryker and Ferno have additional handles fore and aft to enable the crew to lift the carry chair over obstacles.
The Stryker and Ferno have a track system which travels around the outside of a rigid bar system and this feature requires the carry chair to travel down the stairs on the outer edge of the stair tread, in the same manner that a scaffold board would slide down the stairs, except that both carry chairs descend the stairs under control. The Ibex has a flexible track system which means that the track rolls over the outer edge of the stair tread and then settles down prior to negotiating the next tread, in a gentle wave format.
The chairs are constructed of different materials and when folded away take up different levels of space and will require a dedicated storage area within the ambulance of a corresponding size.
The all up weight of each carry chairs plus any additional equipment that would be required to be built into the ambulance plus the total cost; or any weight / cost savings that can be achieved would also be part of the decision making process. The weight of the current Track 2 Carry Chair with tracks fitted is 15.0 Kg.
The weights of the 4-wheeled carry chairs are higher which is to be expected because they all have four wheels and different safety features. The weight of the individual four-wheeled carry chairs are:
Stryker = 16.3 KgIbex = 19.5 KgFerno = 21.3 KgHowever, the intention is that once removed from their stowage bracket in the ambulance they would be wheeled to the patient and not carried by the member of staff so there should be minimal lifting involved.
In practical terms, 1 litre of a well-known brand of Scotch weighs in at 1.5 Kg which equates to approximately 3 ¼ Lb. So the difference between the aforementioned carry chairs Is:
Track 2 + 1 Bottle = StrykerOr Track 2 + 3 One pound bags of sugar = Stryker
Stryker + 2 Bottles of Scotch = IbexOr Stryker + 7 One pound bags of sugar = Ibex
Ibex + 1 Bottle of Scotch = FernoOr Ibex + 4 One pound bags of sugar = Ferno
My apologies to anyone who does not use sugar or is teetotal.
Reaching a final decision is not a quick option; the entire process is based around providing members of staff with a robust method of moving patients, in a safe and stable manner, without placing either of the crew at risk of musculoskeletal injury, while at the same time ensuring that the patient can be securely seated in reasonably comfort. To this end the Trust will be engaging the services of a Consultant Ergonomist to ensure that the carry chair selected will offer the least risk to the users.
The preferred method of moving patients would be on a powered stretcher that the crew can easily operate and which has no requirement for physical exertion or strenuous lifting; however there will be times when a carry chair will be the only means of moving a patient out of a building and whichever carry chair is selected, will be the one which best meets the needs of our crews and patients.
Unison Health & Safety Officer