Making a Better Board



"When I first joined the City of Fairfield’s Fire Department over 25 years ago, I was tasked with building a spine board from plywood. Today, the standard design of the board has not significantly changed, and the phrase “100 Years of Tradition, Unimpeded by Progress” is often touted to describe our profession. Why would anyone want to recreate the same design without taking an alternative approach?

It wasn’t until 20 years into my own career, after suffering for some time from chronic back pain, that I began to suspect there was a better way for service personnel to assist patients. I started looking into different approaches to solve some of the common, persistent problems. These problems not only affected firefighters and EMS personnel who prepare patients for transport, but also the patients themselves. Here are a few:

  • The use of Spider Straps is burdensome for firefighters and EMS personnel, especially when they must be cleaned and repackaged

  • Patients from all walks of life, especially the elderly, complain from prolonged exposure to the rigid surface of the traditional spine board - which contributes to pressure soars, ulcers, and sciatica

  • The re-use of both Spider Straps and spine boards can cause cross-contamination

Our team devoted the past three years to addressing these issues, which only add to the danger and discomfort inherent to emergency situations. We are proud to present The BETTER Board, which we hope contributes to a safer practice in patient transportation."


John Wignall

25 years with the City of Fairfield, CA Fire Department

Engineer | Emergency Medical Technician