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Area crews get x-ray-ready backboards

Victims of car crashes and other accidental injuries who are picked up by area first responders and rescue workers for transport to the hospital can now feel a little safer, thanks to a donation of new, x-ray ready backboards by the St. Mary’s Foundation.

Members of Lake Park Alert, Frazee Rescue, Audubon Rescue, the Detroit Lakes Fire Department and St. Mary’s EMS were gifted with the new backboards last Thursday at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes.

A total of 28 new backboards were received, according to Michael Zimmer, a St. Mary’s EMS paramedic who serves as materials management coordinator for the department.

“We received 28 backboards altogether, along with the straps and everything else that goes with them,” Zimmer said.

St. Mary’s EMS is using 10 of the new backboards in their trucks, while the rest were distributed to area first response and rescue squad organizations in Detroit Lakes, Audubon, Lake Park and Frazee.

The backboards enable accident victims with suspected spinal or neck injuries to be transported to the hospital and x-rayed to determine the extent of their injuries without having to be removed from the backboard, Zimmer explained.

In the past, the backboards used for emergency transport used two long, metal strips as part of their support structure.

“Those strips would show up on the x-ray, so the patient would need to be removed from the backboard and placed on a gurney or exam table,” Zimmer said.

Once the x-ray was finished, the patient would need to be moved again.

“The more you move the patient before you know the mechanism of the injury, the more risk there is that you can hurt them, or do further damage,” said Rick Billett, vice president of Frazee Rescue, who was one of those on hand for Thursday’s donation.

“The less you move them, the better,” he added.

Frazee Rescue, which serves the townships of Evergreen, Silver Leaf, Burlington, Erie, Height of Land and some of Hobart Township as well as city of Frazee, was the recipient of two of the new backboards, Billett said.

“We were able to trade two of our old backboards for the new ones,” he said.

The new, “imaging-friendly” backboards can be differentiated from the old ones by their color, Billett added.

“The new ones are blue, while the old ones are yellow,” he said.

There are no metal strips in the new backboards, so patients that come in on one of them can go directly in for x-rays without having to be moved onto a gurney or table during the imaging process.

“The hospital staff won’t have to be moving patients off the backboards and putting them back on (after the x-ray is finished,” Zimmer said. “It’s going to be safer for the patient, and more comfortable as well.”

St. Mary’s Foundation raised funds for the backboard project through two sources: Private donation, and donations from Essentia Health-St. Mary’s employees via their ROOTS Giving Committee.

“Each year, they (the ROOTS committee) pick out some worthy projects to support, and we were lucky enough that this was one of them,” Zimmer said.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454