Coast Guard Study




 Product Name:  REEL SPLINT

 Manufacturer:  REEL Research and Development, Inc.

                         9533 Sunnyside Avenue

                        Ben Lomond, California 95005


Product Description: Fully adjustable, immobilization, pre-extrication splinting device with traction capability.

 See enclosure (1)

 Evaluation Goals:

INDICATIONS: Identify those injuries which would benefit from the use of this device.

LIMITATIONS: Identify those conditions for which the use of this device would be contraindicated or would otherwise be of limited usefulness.

COMPARISONS:  Evaluate the use of this device compared to currently being used by Coast Guard EMT’s.

TRAINING REQUIREMENTS:  Attempt to determine the minimum training requirement to enable Coast Guard EMT’s to correctly utilize the capabilities of this device.

COAST GUARD ENVIRONMENT: Evaluate this equipment as to its suitability for use USCG SAR vehicles and in the marine environment.

EVALUATION TECHNIQUE:  The adult and pediatric models of this device were demonstrated to three EMT classes at this facility and each student was afforded time to practice the various applications of this device under supervision by one or more of the staff members. We attempted to simulate as extrication from our training aids (airplane, boat, and automobile). It is estimated that we now have experience with over 300 applications of this device.


 According to the manufacturer and from the simulations conducted at this facility, the REEL splint will when properly applied:

1.      Adequately immobilize nearly all extremity fractures without the use of adjust equipment.

2.      Does not require injured extremities to be repositioned prior to splinting, and can be applied with little or no part movement.

3.      Can be applied to any aspect of the injured part as required, i.e., anterior, posterior, medial, lateral application.

4.      Can be utilized to extricate angulated large fractures, while holding the injured extremity at any degree of flexion or extension. Can then be manipulated to near anatomical position and apply distal traction without the need to remove the splint.

5.      Can be used with basswood and/or wire ladder splints to adequately splint all extremity fractures.

6.      Does not obscure distal pulses or wounds in most applications. NOTE: the ankle strap does not cover the pulses normally found in the ankle:

INDICATIONS: During our evaluation we found that we adequately immobilize the following simulated injuries: Fractures of the Radius and Ulna, Ankle or Foot without additional support being provided with basswood or wire ladder splints and additional support straps such as a cravat or roller gauze.

TRAINING REQUIREMENTS: From our experience teaching this splint to approximately 120 people,  non-experienced personnel will require approximately two hours of instruction time per person, to fully utilize this device. Experience personnel (qualified EMT or HS personnel) will only require one half to one hour of additional training.

We have given this device to students who have previously been instructed to use the Hare Traction Splint but who had no experience or training with the REEL SPLINT and they were to apply the splint in an acceptable manner.

 The instruction manual, enclosure (2), provided with the splint, does not adequately explain all the potential uses of this device. The manufacturer is preparing a video tap which should fully explain the proper use of this equipment. Hopefully this 30 to 30 minute video tape demonstration will be sufficient to update an EMT’s skill level to correctly apply this device.

COMPARISON: The REEL SPLINT is a unique, multiple purpose, which seems to offer advantages over any other type of splinting device currently on the market, without any of the disadvantages associated with the other devices. The only advantages gained by using any other splinting device as compare as compared to the REEL SPLINT were in relationship to size and initial cost. Specific disadvantageous of the other splinting devices which the REEL SPLINT overcomes are :

PNEUMATIC AIR SPLINTS – require the injured extremity to be in a near anatomical position before application, have a tendency to leak, do not work will in cold environments, obscures wounds and distal pluses, and immobilization can be effected by changes in temperature or atmospheric pressure. Must be stocked in several shapes and sizes to accommodate various extremity injuries.

HARE TRACTION SPLINTS – Require the injured part to be in near anatomical position prior to application, and is a single purpose device designed for use on leg fractures only.

THOMAS HALF RING SPLINT – Same as for the Hare Splint plus this device does not include a positive traction device, straps, or heel stand, and is considered by this evaluator to be an antiquated piece of equipment which has no place in modern emergency medicine system.

CARDBOARD SPLINTS – Require the injured extremity to be near anatomical position prior to application. My make wounds and distal pulses inaccessible.  Must be stocked in various sizes and shapes to treat various types of injuries.

VACUUM SPLINTS – May require considerable manipulation of the injured part during application. May develop leaks which would eliminate the immobilization effect. Must be stored in several sizes and shapes to treat various injuries. Immobilization can be affected by atmospheric pressure or temperature changes.

BASSWOOD AND WIRE LADDER SPLINTING MATERIAL – These materials are considered to be basic EMT equipment and the REEL SPLINT is fully compatible with these devices. Use of the REEL SPLINT should reduce the quantities of these materials needed.

COAST GUARD ENVIRONMENT:  The REEL SPLINT appears to be a durable piece of equipment that will not be adversely affected by exposure to the marine environment. The basic materials consist of clear anodized 6061 T3 or T6 aluminum, electro-polished 304 stainless steel for the main frame, with plastic closures on the elastic straps. Please see enclosure (30 for complete specifications.

These materials should not present a corrosion problem even if stored in a wet environment. The securing straps will deteriorate over time, especially if left exposed to direct sun light for long periods. Normal life expectancy for the straps is three to four years.  Component parts are available to replace any item which is defective or lost.

Storage requirements: when folded, the adult version for the REEL SPLINT requires a storage space measuring 18” X 11” X9” and the pediatric version takes a 14” x 10” x9” space. Each splint comes with a ripstop nylon storage bag which will protect the splint from the environment and allow the splint to be hung for storage. The weights are 9.8lbs. for the adult splint and 8.8lbs for the pediatric unit.

CIVILIAN SYSTEMS: The REEL SPLINT is rapidly gaining acceptance by the civilian EMS departments as indicated by enclosure (4), (5) and (6)



It is the recommendation of this evaluator that:


  1. The REEL SPLINT be authorized as standard Coast Guard EMT equipment.
  2. That the REEL SPLINT be incorporated into the training syllabus for the EMT school and the HS School.
  3. That the Air Splints and the Hare Traction Splint be replaced with the REEL SPLINT when replacement is required.
  4. That the Thomas Half Ring splint be removed from all authorization lists, and that its use be discontinued.














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