Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Florida County Eliminates Use of Magic Backboards for Possible Spinal injuries


More medical directors are rejecting the superstition that it is acceptable to harm patients to prevent fear of law suits.

There is no evidence that backboards do anything to protect the spine, but there is plenty of evidence that backboards cause harm.[1]


All treatments have side effects, so we need to have evidence of benefit to justify exposing our patients to those side effects. A treatment that does not provide any benefit to the patient exposes the patient to the side effects, but does not provide any benefit. This is indefensible, but many doctors, nurses, paramedics, basic EMTs, and others continue to defend this magical thinking and oppose EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine).

Fortunately, the defenders of superstitious nonsense seem to be losing support for belief in the magical properties of backboards.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue just became one of the first agencies in the state to stop the use of rigid backboards for spinal immobilization.[2]



Instead of using the backboard, patients will be placed on a padded stretcher. Cervical collars will still be used when necessary to provide cervical stabilization.[2]


“The new procedures will reduce pain and suffering of patients, reduce complications, decrease on scene times and reduce injuries to crews who are attempting to carry immobilized patients,” said Cpt. Albert Borroto in a news release.[3]


Palm Beach County Fire Rescue joins a growing list of EMS agencies that are putting patients ahead of superstition –

Agencies/EMS Systems Minimizing Backboard use –

Let me know if I should add your agency to this list.

Alameda County

Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Medical Control Board

Bernalillo County Fire Department

CentraCare Health
Monticello, MN

Connecticut, State of

Durham County EMS

Eagle County Ambulance District

HealthEast Medical Transportation
St. Paul, MN

Johnson County EMS

Kenosha Fire Department
Kenosha, WI

Maryland, State of

MedicWest Ambulance

Milwaukee EMS

North Memorial Ambulance & Aircare
Minneapolis, MN

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue

Rio Rancho Fire Department

SERTAC (Southeast Regional Trauma Advisory Council)

Wichita-Sedgwick County EMS System

Xenia Fire Department
Xenia, OH

Outside of the US –

St. John Ambulance
New Zealand


Queensland, Australia


[1] New Kansas EMS policy limits use of backboards
Tue, 01 Apr 2014
Rogue Medic

[2] Palm Beach County Fire Rescue changes the way first responders handle patients
Katie Johnson
5:57 PM, Dec 10, 2014
5:40 AM, Dec 11, 2014
WPTV5 West Palm Beach

[3] Palm Beach County Fire Rescue making changes for backboard use
WPTV Webteam
8:47 AM, Dec 10, 2014
7:35 PM, Dec 10, 2014
WPTV5 West Palm Beach