Nurses’ design puts an end to injuries

Evacuation board gives staff a much-needed boost.

Eddie Wood gave up his engineering job to go into nursing, but when a fellow nurse suffered a career-ending back injury trying to lift a patient, Eddie knew it was time to dust off his technical skills.

Eddie designed an evacuation board to get non-weight-bearing patients out of cars and onto Emergency Department beds.

He called it the Manning Evacuation Board after his workplace, Manning Base hospital at Taree.

It went into commercial production and is now used at dozens of NSW hospitals, with EDs in Queensland and New Zealand also expressing interest.

The lightweight plastic board eliminates double handling of patients with minimal risk of injury to staff. It has proved ideal for moving unconscious or obese patients or people with fractured limbs.

‘Seven nurses working in EDs on the Mid North Coast were injured trying to drag patients out of a car, onto a wheelchair and then lift them onto the ED beds,’ Eddie said.

‘They hurt their backs, shoulders and necks, and one staff member had to have a laminectomy and couldn’t work again.

‘Since we introduced the Manning Evacuation Board in 1998 we have not had a single documented injury from this procedure on the whole Mid-North Coast.’

The evacuation board is fast, safe and simple. The ED bed is wheeled to the car and the board is used to slide the patient out of the car straight onto the ED bed. CPR can be performed with the patient on the board if necessary. The board costs around $325.

British-born Eddie came to Australia 32 years ago to play rugby league for Canterbury-Bankstown in Sydney, and later moved north to run his own engineering business. He eventually opted for a career change and followed his wife Trish into nursing.

Eddie trained at Manning Base hospital and is now Manual Handling Coordinator for the Hunter/New England Area Health Service. He said he could not have designed the evacuation board without valuable input from ED staff at Manning Base. Advice from car manufacturers was also crucial.

‘I contacted all the major car manufacturers to find out the degree of the angle on their open doors. It ranged from 18 to 22 degrees, so we gave the board an 18-degree angle at one end,’ Eddie said.

‘I made a template out of cardboard and sent it to Acacia Medical Products in Armidale. They agreed to make it and sent the first one to us for trial.’

When the ED staff took the board out the front of the hospital car park to test it, a car drove in with an unconscious patient on the front seat.

‘We put the board into action and it worked perfectly,’ Eddie said. ‘The NUM timed the whole operation – getting the patient off the front seat and onto the ED bed – at 58 seconds. We’ve now got it down to 40 seconds.’

Soon every ED on the Mid North Coast was using the board. The Far West Area Health Service followed, including Broken Hill Hospital, Maitland and Singleton Hospitals. Eddie was recently asked to demonstrate the board to Blacktown Hospital in Western Sydney.
The Manning Evacuation Board is Eddie’s second major health industry design contribution. He also invented the red dot mobility system for assessing patient mobility. It is now used in 250 hospitals and nursing homes around the world.

How it works

The Manning Evacuation Board is a variation on the pat slide, but narrower and longer and with one end angled to 18 degrees.
It takes three people to safely transfer a patient from a car onto a bed using the board, which is suitable for front or rear seats.

Assuming the patient is in the front passenger’s seat, the procedure is:

  • An emergency bed (lowered or tilted) is wheeled up to the passenger’s door. A pelican belt is placed around the patient and the car windows are wound down for easy access to the patient.
  • One member of the team gets in the driver’s seat. Two staff push the bed foot first into the passenger exit.
  • The team member in the car pulls the patient slightly towards the driver’s door. The board is slid under the patient’s buttocks with the other end of the board resting on the bed.
  • The patient is pushed and swiveled towards the passenger exit so he/she is now lying on the evacuation board and bed.
  • Two team members grip pelican belt straps and pull and slide the patient onto the bed in two movements.