Heliport » Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders

Movable stretcher
Movable stretcher.


Employees are exposed to ergonomics-related risk factors (e.g., heavy lifting in awkward body positions) when they transfer patients to and from a helicopter to carts or gurneys.

Frequent lifting and positioning of patients in awkward postures (e.g., twisting, bending to the side, back hyperextension or flexion, reaching across the patient) and using a great deal of force (for example, while repositioning a physically dependent patient) or pushing wheelchairs or gurneys across elevation changes or up ramps, may lead to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (i.e., strain and sprain injuries to back and shoulder areas).

Cart for patient transfers
Cart for patient transfers.
Descent control system
Descent control systems (Source: Provided by ParaMed Systems).
Descent control system attached to cot
Descent control systems attached to cot (Source: Provided by ParaMed Systems).
Descent control system demonstration on stairs
Demonstration of descent control systems on stairs (Source: Provided by ParaMed Systems).

Recognized Controls and Work Practices

  • Provide a safe and rapid way of moving patients from a heliport to the hospital emergency room using mechanical patient transfer equipment.
  • Provide a moveable and adjustable stretcher inside the helicopter to avoid employee twisting and minimize manual lifting.
  • Provide power gurneys when moving patients from the heliport into the hospital. Even obese (bariatric) patients can be accommodated with upgraded design of the power gurneys.
  • Descent Control System (DCS): Emergency evacuation or retrieval from older or disabled structures may require using stairs or negotiating rough terrain when moving patients. These devices allow ambulance technicians or emergency evacuation personnel to safely move a loaded hospital cot or gurney down stairs or any steep decline. The device easily attaches to any ambulance cot currently in-use by the pre-hospital care market. When not in use, the DCS simply folds up and out of the way.

Additional Information