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Designing ergonomic interventions for EMS workers - part I: transporting patients down the stairs.

Lavender-SA; Conrad-KM; Reichelt-PA; Gacki-Smith-J; Kohok-AK
Appl Ergon 2007 Jan; 38(1):71-81
The objective of the current work was to test ergonomic interventions aimed at reducing the magnitude of trunk muscle exertions in firefighters/paramedics (FFPs) providing emergency medical services (EMS) when transporting patients down the stairs. The interventions, developed using focus groups, were a footstrap to prevent the patient from sliding down on the backboard, a change in the handle configuration on the stairchair, and 2 devices, the "backboard wheeler" and a tank tread-like device (descent control system, DCS) for a stretcher, that change the backboard and stretcher carrying tasks into rolling and sliding tasks. Eleven two-person teams transported a 75 kg dummy with each intervention and its corresponding control condition down a flight of steps. Surface electromyographic (EMG) data were collected from 8 trunk muscles from each participant. Results showed that the backboard footstrap reduced the erector spinae (ERS) activity for the FFP in the "leader" role by 15 percent, on average. The change in handle configuration on the stairchair had no effect on the variables measured. The backboard wheeler reduced the ERS activity bilaterally in the FFP in the leader role and unilaterally for the FFP in the "follower" role, by 28 and 24 percent, respectively. The DCS reduced the 90th percentile ERS activity for both FFPs from 26 to 16 percent MVC, but increased the latissimus dorsi activity in the follower from 11 to 15 percent MVC. The DCS was the only intervention tested that resulted in a reduced rating of perceived exertion relative to the corresponding control condition. In summary, the hypotheses that the proposed interventions could reduce trunk muscle loading were supported for 3 of the 4 transport interventions tested.
Muscle-function; Muscle-physiology; Muscle-stress; Muscle-tension; Posture; Fire-fighters; Rescue-workers; Rescue-measures; Medical-rescue-services; Body-mechanics; Emergency-responders; Musculoskeletal-system; Author Keywords: LBD; EMS; Intervention
Departments of Industrial Welding and Systems Engineering and Orthopaedics, The Ohio State University, 1971 Neil Avenue, Rm. 210, Columbus, OH 43210
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
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Fiscal Year
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Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Low Back Disorders
Source Name
Applied Ergonomics
Performing Organization
University of Illinois at Chicago
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division