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Embracing the use of stair chairs in emergency medical services

Stryker’s Xpedition powered stair chair can navigate tight corners, and descend or ascend with ease

Sponsored by Stryker

Stair chairs have undergone remarkable technological advancements recently, transforming from simple machines primarily used for patient transportation down flights of stairs into versatile and efficient tools that can be used to transport patients up or down stairs and other areas not suitable for ambulance cots. Today’s powered stair chairs feature battery-powered functionality, making them universally applicable for ascending and descending stairs. These modern designs prioritize safety, helping EMS professionals perform their duties without compromising their safety and wellbeing.

One of the remarkable advancements in stair chair technology is exemplified by Stryker's Xpedition powered stair chair. This innovative device allows for ease of patient transport in both ascending and descending situations, helping to eliminate the need for excessive physical exertion from EMTs and paramedics. Larger wheels and improved track ground clearance help Xpedition maneuver over obstacles and transition from landings to stairs more easily.

To better understand when a stair chair is the appropriate equipment for the job, let's consider a few scenarios:

  1. The residence you respond to has steps leading from the front porch to the yard, and you need to move a patient who is unable to walk on their own. Moving the patient from the home to the awaiting cot outside could become an unsafe endeavor unless the proper equipment is used. Using a powered stair chair helps move the patient to the awaiting cot outside the residence, helping with both convenience and reduced exertion for the patient and the caregivers.
  2. You arrive at a multi-level apartment complex to assist a patient. Due to small elevators, attempting to transport the patient using an ambulance cot is not possible. However, using a powered stair chair enables you to move the patient to the awaiting ambulance safely and efficiently.
  3. You encounter a patient inside a narrow basement hallway. Transporting the patient while they lie supine on a backboard or ambulance cot is impractical due to the restricted space. In this situation, placing the patient in a seated position and using a powered stair chair allows for safe ascension of the basement stairs.

The key to successful adoption and continued use of powered stair chairs within EMS organizations lies in getting buy-in from the EMTs and paramedics who will have the opportunity to use the powered stair chairs regularly. Each EMS agency must actively reduce uncertainty by prioritizing powered stair chair safety through the following measures:

  • Provide comprehensive and engaging training. Incorporate the expertise of stair chair vendors into your agency's equipment training. Encourage your crews to practice using the stair chair in a variety of environments, as well as with different types of patients.
  • Choose the right transport equipment for the job. While there may be instances where traditional transport methods are appropriate, powered stair chairs are often the best solution for moving patients between floors or in tight quarters. Practicing scenarios can help alleviate uncertainty on the best time to use a powered stair chair.
  • Select the appropriate stair chair for your agency. If you encounter scenarios where descending and ascending patients occurs often, it is crucial to be prepared by supplying your crew with appropriate and helpful equipment. Powered stair chairs allow caregivers to safely and ergonomically move patients up and down stairs – helping decrease the risk of caregiver injury.  

By embracing the versatility of powered stair chairs and prioritizing safety measures, EMS agencies can optimize patient care and ensure the wellbeing of their personnel. Continuous training, thoughtful equipment selection and the integration of appropriate technology will undoubtedly enhance the effectiveness of caregiving in emergency medical services.

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