Machine Design

Air-spring actuator lifts medical stretcher

An air-spring actuator powers the stretcher bed to the required loading height.

Back injuries are the number one reason for the premature end to the careers of emergency-medical technicians. The injuries usually occur when lifting a patient on a stretcher, an integral part of the job for emergency rescue personnel. If you can't lift a stretcher, your days as an EMT are numbered.

Tech Lift of Spring City, Pa., addresses this problem with a self-actuating stretcher powered by compressed air. It promises to revolutionize patient transport and eliminate the primary cause of EMT injuries.

At its heart is an air spring manufactured by Firestone Industrial Products, Carmel, Ind., that serves as the primary actuator. The air spring is an integral part of an undercarriage scissors-lift. Compressed air supplied by a scuba-like tank at 150 psi expands the air spring to lift the stretcher.

By pressing a simple lever, EMTs can lift 400 lb to a loading height, or any intermediate position. In addition the air spring provides a cushioned ride for patients, helping reduce the chance of further injury. It is rated for a maximum compressive load of 700 lb. A secondary air cylinder retracts and deflates the air spring in less than 3 sec.

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