When can we change the ambulance collar? – Karen Barnard Interview

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Karen Barnard is the Advanced Trauma Nurse Practitioner at The Royal Berkshire Hospital and has been in this post for around 9 years.


We have set up a process that the patients come up from A&E to the ward and once the patient is up on the ward the nurses on the ward have been trained to take off the ambulance collar, which is particularly uncomfortable and to put them into an Aspen Vista Collar which is still a rigid collar but is far more comfortable for the patient and they tolerate them much better.

We find the Aspen Vista Collar to be a very good collar to use because it fits the patient much better and you can adjust the collar on the patient so it is almost a ‘one size fits all’. It has a little button on the front that you can pull out, turn and then adjust the chin portion either up or down to fit the patient.

Often, you find you fit a collar on a patient when they are laying down flat and then when you start to sit them up or stand them up, they will either lift their chin up a bit so you are left with a gap or they will have their chin too high up and they are trying to peer down their nose to see where they are.  This means you can then adjust the collar without having to get another collar and refit it.

The other nice thing about Aspen Vista Collars is that they have got foam linings and patients who are often in these collars can get food and other things down their chin that can dribble into the collar or they can get very hot and sweaty.

These linings can be taken out and replaced so the actual rigid collar itself doesn’t have to be thrown away, it is just the linings. The linings can also be washed and they dry within an hour of lying on a bedside table or on the patient’s locker so we can then send them home with replacement linings so that they can change them at home.