Effective Mobility Through Precision Immobility
By Kevin Hunter
Skedco Inc. was founded on December of 1981 for the purpose of manufacturing and marketing the Sked Stretcher System, the first-ever casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) kit. It was and still is a litter in a carrying case with all necessary accessories for rope rescue, a spine immobilizer, the Oregon Spine Splint, and a flotation system that floats the Sked in a nearly vertical position and is self-righting if capsized.
Since the Sked System was introduced and standardized, Skedco has produced many new and innovative products (over 200 and counting). The Sked system was tested for nearly two years before it was standardized in 1986. It is currently the standard battlefield litter.
Light, Strong, Versatile
The Sked is made from a proprietary easy glide medium density polyethylene plastic that is very abrasion resistant, unbreakable at -120 degrees Fahrenheit, and very functional in desert and jungle applications. It has grommeted holes with straps sewn into them to secure the patient. The addition of Cobra buckles has been very well received, and now Skedco produces Cobra buckle kits to retrofit existing Skedco litters to save money. The Sked body weighs 11 pounds, while the basic system weighs just over 16 pounds.
Designed with CASEVAC in mind, Skedco’s Oregon Spine Splint (OSS) Sked Combination had to be small, lightweight, and very efficacious. Adding the Cobra buckles to the Sked in 2005 made it possible for one soldier to deploy the Sked and package a patient in as little as one minute. If a spinal injury is suspected, the OSS is used to immobilize the patient. Possibly the only short spinal immobilizer that meets all of the criteria established by Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, among others, for immobilizing a seated patient, the OSS when used with a Sked litter is equal to a long backboard. It is more compact and comfortable, able to assist with virtually any kind of rescue. Sked is the only rollup litter that has an airworthiness release. It can be dragged, carried, and hoisted for rope rescues or into helicopters.
The OSS fits inside a rolled Sked inside its carrying case. It is deployed and applied in minimal time. It allows immobilization of the spine and can retract the shoulders in the event of a clavicle fracture. The OSS comes with a shoulder board that fits behind the patient’s shoulders to prevent the flexible Sked from rolling the shoulders forward and placing pressure on them, thus eliminating unnecessary pain when being carried or hoisted. The OSS is the choice of the U.S. Army and militaries of several other countries around the world.
Below deck in ships and submarines, an immobilized patient in a Sked and OSS can easily pass through 16-inch scuttles and other very small spaces. The OSS has shoulder straps that prevent the patient from moving upward on the device that can be reconfigured to retract the shoulders. Groin straps prevent downward movement and also never overtighten when the patient is taken from sitting to supine position and two body straps. The straps and buckles are all color coded for easy use. The design allows total access to the anterior torso for any prehospital diagnosis or treatment without compromising the immobilization, which is not possible on other devices. One person can quickly immobilize a spinal injured patient if he follows the Skedco technique that was blessed by PHTLS years ago.
All Float, No Boat
The Sked’s flotation system consists of two float logs that attach to slots in its sides using beefy plastic side-release buckles for safety. The float position keeps the patient’s head above water when it is being towed, with the chest pad self-righting the litter in case of capsizing; the ballast causes the Sked to float in a nearly vertical position.
If the system is in a rapid deployment bag, it can be deployed in as little as 30 seconds ready to receive a patient. It can be pre-rigged with a tag line to prevent litter spin when hoisted by helicopter. Patient packaging in the water can be accomplished by one person in as little as 20 seconds. (Add another 40 seconds to prepare for helicopter hoist if the tag-line is pre-rigged prior to deployment).
CASEVAC and Safety
Skedco also manufactures a full capability CASEVAC Kit that will attach very securely to a vehicle using a very strong supersize MOLLE-type attachment. It features an attachment sleeve that contains the detachable litter carrier with a litter and all necessary medical equipment. Pockets on the inside secure patient litter straps, litter tiedown straps, carabiners, and aviation snap hooks. There is a shroud to protect it from weather that doubles as a carrier for the patient’s gear. It is mounted inside or outside the vehicle.
The Skedco-designed tag-line is attached to the Sked or other litters when hoisting into helicopters to prevent litter spin. A V-strap is connected to the litter using carabiners. It is attached to the rope using two screw links with a weak link that breaks at 150 pounds to insure safety of the aircraft and crew.
“State Of The Art” Forward
Skedco manufactures medical equipment set bags for helicopters that have, like the other Skedco products, been battle proven to make rescue and medical treatment easier. Skedco produces medical packs and bags such as our revised Pringle CLS Chest bag and the Maltz medical assault pack, both of which can double as a hanging panel in vehicles and aircraft.
Skedco’s individual first aid kit features the tourniquets on the outside for quick access and the patented “Tactical Release” MOLLE attachment. Lastly, the Skedco Mout Lifeline can be connected to a Velcrofaced MOLLE attachment, with the end of the rope attached to the drag handle on body armor; so if a soldier is down in the line of fire, it is thrown (tangle-free) to someone who pulls him to safety without exposing himself.