The Original and Amazing SKED

In September of 2012 a small plane crashed in the mountains of Idaho.  The story received national attention because the occupants of the plane (a husband, his wife and daughter) survived the mishap.  Federal, state and local rescuers responded to the remote area, triaged the patients and airlifted them to safety and care.  The device used for patient packaging was once again…The Original and Amazing Sked!

Recognized as the emergency response stretcher of choice by the military, industrial rescue teams, EMS squads and firefighters worldwide, the Sked has been around for more than 30 years. Its distinct orange color (military version is available in OD green and coyote brown) hasappeared in thousands of photos over the years…a testament to how widely accepted and trusted the SKED has become.

SKEDCO founder Bud Calkin of Tualitin, OR says he receives emails and phone calls frequently from people who were rescued in the SKED. A common phase…”that SKED saved my life.”

The original—and still the best—rescue stretcher, the Sked is made from a proprietary formula of polyethylene plastic. In trials, it has proven to be tough enough to withstand being run over by a 56-ton tank, and then used afterward to drag a soldier around a military base for 10 miles over extremely rough terrain.

There are hundreds of stories about how the SKED has saved the lives of countless men and women in uniform over the years.  Here is just a recent example from Afghanistan.

“During combat operations in Operation Enduring Freedom, I was hoisted into a landing zone where the patient was packaged on a SKED stretcher…my helicopter started taking RPG fire and I was left on the LZ with the patient in the SKED. We used the SKED to move the patient for two hours while locating a better LZ. Eight hours later we were picked up by AIRFORCE CSAR Pararescue Jumpers. There was no way we would have moved that patient as quickly and safely as we did if we did not have the SKED stretcher.”

Because of its light weight and low profile when stowed away, the SKED has not only become the first choice of homeland defenders and emergency responders but trainers as well.

Roco Rescue of Baton Rouge, LA has been in the rescue business for 33 years.  Director of Training Dennis O’Connell has been using and training with the SKED as a New York Policeman and Lead Instructor for Roco. “So, why do we continue to use the Sked for both Confined space and High Angle Rescue? The answer is simple, it works!  Having been actively involved in rope and confined space rescue for more than 28 years, I have still not found a device as adaptable or as durable as the Sked”, says O’Connell.

He goes on to say, “In fact, a recent review of different flexible litter systems by our instructors ended with the overwhelming decision to continue using the Sked as the litter of choice for our training classes.”

Over the years and all over the globe companies have attempted to copy the SKED but have been unsuccessful to match its design and performance characteristics.  One main benefit that’s been difficult to replicate is the Sked’s ability for one man to package a patient in less than a minute

Another rescue training company that’s been around for more than three decades is CMC Rescue near Santa Barbara, CA.  School Director John McKently says the SKED is definitely the litter to use in tight spots. “When it comes to making someone smooth and compact and having handles to make it easier to lift and manipulate them in a confined space, there is nothing better than a SKED.”

Steve Hudson, President of PMI in LaFayette, GA (one of the premiere rope companies in the world)  and an avid caver, says for that environment, there’s nothing like it. “We have been using Sked litters from Skedco for our local our cave rescue operations for over 30 years. I can’t think of another product that holds up as well to the abrasive, dirty and wet environment of caves that can also easily fit in the confined passages of the underground. The Sked’s compact size is easy to get to a patient injured thousands of feet from a cave’s entrance and quick to set up for horizontal or vertical transport up and out of the cave.”

Not only is the Sked recognized in the United States but around the world as well. Dr. David Chew is Founder and Managing Director of ARIS Integrated Medical in Singapore. “The Sked is battle proven, combat tested lifesaving equipment. Its durability and flexibility in the sea, air, land and other challenging environments has given it an edge over similar products. There are others who try but there can only be one Sked!”, according to Chew.

Although there are literally thousands of SKEDs in civilian service, Calkin admits he has a special fondness for the men and women in uniform.  In 30 years he hasn’t met one military member  who is unappreciative of the Sked and the training provided by Skedco, most often at no charge. This motivates Calkin to continue doing what he does to save lives even at the age of 76.

Note: For more information about The Amazing Sked and other products from Skedco, contact them at

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