Throughout history wherever there has been battles, wars and disasters there has been a need for stretchers.
The Furley Stretcher and the Ashford Litter were the first recognised stretchers developed for the St John’s Ambulance by Sir John Furley of Ashford in Kent. The Ashford Litter was a basic Furley stretcher fitted with wheels and a canvas cover to protect the patient and came to the fore during the First World War.Checkout breeze eastern corp for more info.
The Lowmoor Jacket was developed to overcome the difficulties that were experienced when using the Furley stretcher in confined spaces and originated in the mining communities of the North East near Bradford. While the Furley stretcher continued to be used in wide-open ground, the Lowmoor Jacket was better suited for restricted areas.
The Mansfield stretcher was another design that was commonly found on Royal Navy ships but there were occasions when this was unsuitable, in particular when raising casualties from the boiler room through the narrow hatch. The solution was the adaptation of Japanese hammocks, which resulted in the “Hammock for Hoisting Wounded Men from Stokeholds and for Use in Ships whose ash hoists are 2ft 6in diameter” stretcher.
This long titled stretcher was to form the basis of what eventually became the Neil Robertson stretcher and that is still found for rescue in confined spaces a hundred years later. Similar developments were underway across the Atlantic, which led to the Stokes Litter, and these two stretcher designs were often fitted with skids for use in mountain rescue.
The Thomas Stretcher was designed in the 1930s by Eustace Thomas and was commissioned specifically for mountain rescue, as the existing designs were not entirely suitable for these harsh environments. This remained the dominant mountain rescue stretcher well into the 1950s when its title was challenged by the Duff stretcher, initially this was a wheeled stretcher but by 1950 it had been adapted for rescue work. For ease of transport its runners could be detached and the frame folded in half.
The 1970s saw the lightweight tubular frame stretchers of McInnes come into force and included models for use at altitude and motorised ones that ran on a two stroke engine. McInnes’s designs were popular with mountain and helicopter rescues due to their weight and ability to be operated by a single person. The next real advancement came in the 80’s with the Bell stretcher, which had the capability of splitting in half and had folding handles.