With the formation of the Airborne Medical Services, a need was identified for a lightweight folding stretcher, that could be attached to a parachutist whilst he was jumping.
Above: A first pattern airborne stretcher, note the ball ended handles.
Above: A second pattern Airborne Stretcher.
Above: The stretcher folded for transport.
Above: The Airborne stretcher used as a make shift operating table.
The airborne stretcher is strapped diagonally across the chest of the parachutist who jumps with it in this position. It must always be released to the full extent of the suspension line during descent.
The stretcher is folded, and the handles are strapped to the frame by a pair of Army-issue valise straps. The suspension line, which consists of a 20 ft. length of line, is tied to one end of the folded stretcher. To make this attachment secure, the line is passed once round each leg, as shown in fig. 4. The remainder of the line is folded and tucked into the canvas of the stretcher leaving about 18 in. of the loose end free for attachment to the parachutist.
The quick-release device is placed against the chest and one strap is passed under the parachute-harness upper right chest strap, the other strap being passed under the parachute-harness lower left chest strap. The stretcher is then held almost vertically against the parachutist's chest and the straps buckled round it. Finally, the loose end of the suspension line is attached to the left leg strap of the parachute harness.
The stretcher is held almost vertical for jumping. As soon as the canopy has developed the stretcher is released by pulling the dual release pin of the pin-and-cone release device. It is not necessary to use an anti-sear sleeve as this load weighs only 16 lb. Apart from the special points mentioned in this paragraph, standard jumping procedure is followed.
Above: Stretcher bundles consist of an airborne stretcher, tied together with a number of other items of medical equipment.They could be carried either across the chest or packed in a kitbag attached to the right leg.
Preparation of bundle
The items which may be packed with the airborne stretcher are:-
Sheets, ground 1
Splints, knee, Thomas 1
Splint, knee, bar, suspension 1
Splint, knee, stirrup 1
Bandage, flannelette 1
Pins, safety, 4 ½ in. 3
Container, canvas, 3 ½ gal. 1
In addition, the following will be required for packing the above:-
Army-issue valise straps 1 set
Quick-release straps 1 set
Suspension line, 20 ft. 1
Anti-sear sleeve 1
Airborne kitbag, if required 1
No 8 linen thread, Stores Ref 15A/108 As required
Cord for lashing As required
Fold the stretcher and lash it to the Thomas splint so that one end protrudes through the leather-padded ring of the splint. Remove the head of the pick from the helve and secure it to the splint frame with cord. Next secure the helve to one side of the splint frame and the suspension bar to the other. Place the shovel pan on the leather-padded ring and secure the handle to the suspension bar with cord. Should the Thomas splint not be included, the above items must be securely lashed to the folded stretcher frame. Place the flannelette bandage, safety pins and stirrup in the canvas container, fold the container, and lash it to the shovel side of the bundle. Finally wrap the folded blankets, covered by the ground sheet, round the bundle and secure the whole at each end with an Army valise strap.
Attachment of bundle to parachutist
There are two approved methods for attaching stretcher bundles to parachutists. They are:-
(i) Attach one end of the suspension line to the leather-padded ring of the splint, or if the splint is not included in the bundle, round both legs of the stretcher at one end. The procedure is then the same as for the airborne stretcher, except that an anti-sear sleeve must be used.
(ii) Place the bundle, with the leather padded ring of the splint downwards, in an airborne kitbag and attach it to the right leg.