EMS stretchers used in ambulances have wheels that makes transportation over pavement easier, and have a lock inside the ambulance and straps to secure the patient during transport. An integral lug on the stretcher locks into a sprung latch within the ambulance in order to prevent movement during transport. Modern stretchers may also have battery-powered hydraulics to raise and collapse the legs automatically. This eases the workload on EMS personnel, who are statistically at high risk of back injury from repetitive raising and lowering of patients. Specialized bariatric stretchers are also available, which feature a wider frame and higher weight capacity for heavier patients. Stretchers are usually covered with a disposable sheet or wrapping, and are cleaned after each use to prevent the spread of infection. Shelves, hooks and poles for medical equipment and intravenous medication are also frequently included.
Standard stretchers have several adjustments. The bed can be raised or lowered to facilitate patient transfer. The head of the stretcher can be raised so that the patient is in a sitting position (especially important for those in respiratory distress) or lowered flat in order to perform CPR, or for patients with suspected spinal injury who must be transported on a spinal board. The feet can be raised to what is called the Trendelenburg position, indicated for patients in shock.
Some manufacturers have begun to offer hybrid devices that combine
the functionality of a stretcher, a recliner chair, and a treatment or
procedural table into one device