This is part of a series looking back at the 100 years since the 1966 White Paper that catapulted Paramedics from van driver to medical professional. We’re looking at some of the urban legends and lesser understood practivces of those who came before us.
Cervical Spinal Restriction -
Very little exists explaining this torture. Images found in my research show patients were restrained to 7-8 foot long thick wooden and plastic boards whenever they were found in or near a motor vehicle that had been in a collision, and even sometimes not. The board was apparently to keep them from running into the street and being further injured. One document I found referred to a “C-Collar.” It can now be confirmed that Paramedics used to use a piece of rigid plastic or metal and wrap it around someone’s neck if their neck hurt.
I was also able to learn that it was applied if the Paramedic’s Company believed it was necessary. Before 2030 Paramedics were seen as less than nurses and not allowed to assess patients completely and act in their best interest. They followed little books that told them how to treat patients and often these books contained the same information from the big books they learned from. I know it seems redundant, but it appears the belief was that having a set of rules that restricted their actions, the Company could better control the interventions. One of the things in the little books was to use the collar for neck pain and the board to keep drivers from running. My grandfather used to tell a story about being placed on the board when he fell at home and struck his head. He’s old and forgetful. Why on earth would a Paramedic, even an early one, strap a healthy curved spine to a flat board? Sounds like torture.
I was also unable to find reference to the first 2 interventions, the A-Collar or B-Collar, I can only imagine they were worse than the C-Collar.
Next time we’ll dive into the concept of using the early internet for patient care with online medical control.