Quick, efficient patient packaging is a crucial factor in every rescue. Generally, if spinal injury is suspected, two rescuers will be needed to properly manage and package the patient for movement.
In the drill below, keep time for the patient packaging portion. Then inspect for errors and correct as needed. Discuss patient handling and review methods that may reduce the overall time. For this type of drill, timekeeping can begin as soon as rescuers enter the room where the drill is being conducted or once lowered into an area to begin the packaging process.
1) Place a simulated patient/manikin in a given area. This area could be at the end of a short lower or just inside another room that will be considered a “confined space.”
2) Rescuers will enter one at a time as if being lowered into a space.
3) The person running the drill will provide patient condition information and dictate what packaging equipment will be available to the rescuers.
4) The equipment will be “lowered” to the rescuers – or simulated if using a room as the confined space.
5) Rescuers will use the equipment provided to package the patient, and then connect the patient to the retrieval/haul line.
For the next evolution, add requirements for the rescuers to maintain “immediate means of retrieval” lines at all times. Then, step it up by requiring rescuers to don SCBA/SAR during packaging (don’t forget air to the patient!). Or, dim the lights, if possible, lowering visibility and requiring the use of headlamps.
Remember, start off slow. Increase difficulty and speed/time requirements as rescuers become more comfortable and proficient. Working with your team to improve packaging skills will make them more efficient and better rescuers.