Mountain Rescue Magazine Winter 2021

still in use in mountain rescue. His invention of the ice screw, special carabiners and various ski bindings all, incidentally, contributed to increased safety in the mountains. The first really usable lug sole for climbing boots was also invented by Mariner. His idea of wanting to help the victims of climbing accidents lead to the founding of the ICAR, the International Commission for Alpine Rescue. Indeed, for his untiring and courageous work in mountain rescue, he was repeatedly honoured, receiving the title of ‘Professor ’ from the President of Austria — an honour that his modesty kept him from ever using 1 . From 1939 to 1955, he was head of the mountain rescue service in Innsbruck. The School of Mountaineering Austrian Alpine Club was founded by him. His book Modern Mountain Rescue Technique , translated by Otto T Trott and Kurt G Beam into English, paved the way for the development of alpine rescue in the US. Ironically, the so-called European ‘father of mountain rescue’ died just one day after the death of the North American ‘father of mountain rescue’, Ome Daiber. The Mariner mountain carrier was made of thin steel tubing, and consisted of two parts. Two pairs of longitudinal bars, the lower more curved, the upper less, met at acute angles and were fixed together by joints at their ends. In the middle they were firmly connected by bars which could be shifted to allow rapid disassembly and assembly of the device. A locating pin prevented independent loosening of the two bearing surfaces. Lever handles were adjustable to four positions and independent of each other. A slightly dished tub of plastic served as a bed and shelter for the casualty, who would be secured into the stretcher by four pairs of straps. The versatile Mariner was deemed suitable for moving the casualty over all grounds, for lowering on steep rocks, sliding down slopes, driving on narrow and steep mountain paths with the aid of a single wheel, driving with skis on glaciers and for carrying in the same way as an ordinary stretcher. FROM THE USA AND CANADA THE STOKES LITTER Invented by Charles F Stokes (US Patent application dated 21 July 1905, Full Patent granted 8 May 1906. No 820026), this remarkable device was not just a means of carrying a casualty — it had a dual, and equally important role, as a splint. The original designs were such that the mesh support areas were pliable, and specifically designed to mould around the casualty to provide local support and immobilisation. Uniquely, the leg end was divided into two longitudinal sections so that injured legs could be separately splinted by moulding the wire mesh as injuries dictated. Adjustable foot pieces were provided so support could be available or traction

Opposite page: The Tyromont stretcher. Below left: The Piguillem stretcher. This page: The Wastl Mariner stretcher.

applied. One or both of the footrests was capable of providing vertical support if the stretcher was to be lowered or raised vertically — an important characteristic when used aboard ship. The frame itself was of lightweight steel and, according to the patent drawings, joints were riveted. However, before long, tubular steel was used to increase rigidity and the joints were then welded. It seems likely that there was strong rivalry between the British Royal Navy, represented by Neil Robertson Surgeon Commander, and the US Navy, represented by Charles Stokes Surgeon General. In so far as it is possible to compare ranks between the British and US navies, Charles Stokes outranked (and outlived) Neil Robertson. That said, the common objective was a stretcher capable of splinting and lifting vertically an injured seaman. Both men finalised their respective designs in 1906 and both stretcher formats continue in use over a century later — a technical and humanitarian achievement. Over the past 30 years or so, the titles ‘Stokes Litter ’ or ‘Stokes stretcher ’, have become more generic, almost a household name, and they are now available in a wide variety of formats, including moulded plastic. The original design, which incorporated splinting and leg channels, has all but disappeared with the Stokes Splint Stretcher now a simple basket stretcher. Charles F Stokes was the fourteenth Surgeon General of the United States Navy, and the eighteenth Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on 20 February 1863, he was appointed from New York as an assistant surgeon of the Navy in February 1889, his first duty on the USS Minnesota. He was the first medical officer to command a hospital ship and was appointed as Surgeon General of the Navy in February 1910, holding office until 6 February 1914. He was widely known as a skilful surgeon — a pioneer in abdominal surgery, he devised the first aid dressing which the Army and Navy used in modified form during the First World War, but is best remembered in the US Navy today for the stretcher he devised. The eponymous ‘Stokes’ has proved of remarkable value in the transportation of the sick and injured up and down the narrow ladders, and through the small manholes and hatches, aboard ship.

A patient could be lowered into a boat in comfort and, by simple fittings, the stretcher was made to combine splinting for fractures with the function of a litter for transportation. The story goes that, in 1926, Doctor Stokes — who had retired eleven years earlier — was visiting the display of naval medicine in the exhibits of the American Medical Association held in Washington, DC. He showed much interest in the Stokes stretcher so the polite and efficient hospital attendant, on duty with the exhibit, explained the stretcher and its uses at great length. Only afterwards did the attendant learn that he had been explaining the stretcher to its inventor! Stokes praised him for his knowledge of the stretcher and its uses and expressed the hope that doctors on the hospital staff were as well informed. After retirement, Admiral Stokes lived in New York City until his death on 29 October 1931, in his sixty-eighth year. For some years, the Stokes Splint Stretcher was manufactured in military/naval supply factories for naval and other military use in the USA. Early in 1930, running parallel with the Joint Stretcher Committee in England, the Junkin Safety Appliance Company was formed in Louisville, Kentucky. It was in the early-1940s that they began the commercial production of the Stokes-style litter, probably spurred on by an increased demand during the Second World War. By then the business was owned by John Junkin whose father had founded the business. John Junkin died a few years ago but, after the family was bought out in 1973, the business continues to flourish to this day. (Thanks to Chris Mercke and Rhonda, both of the Junkin Safety Appliance Company, for this background detail.) The image shows an early Junkin Stokes Splint Stretcher from their old Bulletin, number 108. The basket unit was priced at $40, an indication of the age of this illustration. This style of basket stretcher was rarely seen in mountain rescue environments here in Britain. ‘The main stretcher frame is of 5/8-inch steel tubing and the cross braces and runners, of 3/16-inch x 5/8-inch flat wire. The basket is carefully constructed of 18 gauge, 1-inch hexagon mesh netting formed and securely fitted into the frame. Length 80 1/2-inch – height

1 Mountain Rescue Bergtrage, the newsletter of the Mountain Rescue Council, Seattle, No 134




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