EMS Backboard As Suspension Bondage Rescue Device

Copyright 2008 by Jay Wiseman, First Responder Instructor

So the other night this old dog learned a new trick. In the wake of some recent unfortunate incidents, some of the people local to the San Francisco Bay Area BDSM scene who are particularly knowledgeable and experienced regarding suspension bondage organized a one-evening educational event for DM-types regarding how to evaluate a suspension bondage scene. The presenters included Loki, JD of the Two Knotty Boys, Madame Butterfly, and a few others. The well-attended event was held without charge at the SF Citadel. Kudos to all.

It was a very good use of an evening and much good stuff was presented. The strong and widespread sense of concern for and commitment to the well-being of the people in our community was very touching to see. I would definitely like to see more such events, maybe even one every three months or so on a particular topic.

One thing in particular jumped out at me.

Many of us are familiar with the multi-faceted difficulties of getting a person in suspension bondage down onto the ground in a rapid yet controlled manner should a serious difficulty emerge. So here’s a thought: how about bringing the ground (so to speak) up to the suspended person?

How to do this was demonstrated by placing a bottom in suspension bondage, assuming that a serious difficulty had emerged, and having some people bring out an EMS-style long backboard and placing it under the suspended bottom, then lifting the backboard up to support their weight (at least two people are needed for this, one on each short end, and – space allowing – four is not too many) while the top and/or DMs work on the more immediate problem – which is often made much easier to deal with once a bit of slack becomes available in the suspension ropes. Once freed, the backboard, with the bottom on it, is then lowered to the ground in a stable, controlled manner where the bottom is given further care as indicated.

It was also pointed out that the backboard should, as a general rule, only be used to accomplish the emergency lowering. Should it become necessary to transport the bottom out of the facility, that task should usually be left to the EMS crews.

Folks, speaking as one who has used backboards on numerous occasions (although admittedly not in a scenario like the one described above), I like this idea. Backboards are typically about six feet by 18 inches and rated to at least 400 pounds. The newer ones are made of a very sturdy plastic-like material that, unlike the older wooden backboards, allows for excellent disinfection. Backboards are readily available, not terribly expensive -- quite adequate backboards can be purchased for about $100.00 -- and as the demo showed the learning curve for how to use one in such a situation is quite reasonable. Such a lecture/demo/practice session could quite easily be added to DM-type training programs.

It is obvious that the use of a backboard to support the weight of the bottom can be extremely valuable in the event of a suspension bondage emergency. Given their excellent cost/benefit ratio, it can quite reasonably be said that the time has come for every space where groups of people play and suspension bondage is engaged in to have a backboard discreetly tucked away where, if necessary, it can rapidly be brought into use by properly trained personnel.

Backboards are available from numerous EMS vendors. Here are three:


Life Assist

Moore Medical

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