Stretcher bearer

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British stretcher bearers in Dunkirk evacuation of World War II.

A stretcher-bearer is a person who carries a stretcher, generally with another person at its other end, especially in a war or emergency times when there is a very serious accident or a disaster. [1]

In case of military personnel, for example removing wounded or dead from a battlefield, the modern term is combat medic who will have received considerable training. Stretcher-bearers would have received basic first-aid training.

The wounded soldier had to wait until the stretcher-bearers arrived or simply the stretcher-bearers will find them.


This term appears between 1875 and 1880. It is largely used before and up to the Second World War and is derived from the British English verb to stretcher means "to carry someone on a stretcher".

A stretcher-bearer party, sometimes a stretcher party or company, is a group or a band of people temporarily or regularly associated which have to carry injured persons with stretchers. In army stretcher-bearers were kind of specific soldiers who work with military ambulances and medical services. A famous stretcher-bearer and ambulance driver during the First World War was the young Ernest Hemingway.

In the arts, painting, figure or figurine sculpture or photography, it is a common topic as well as the couple of stretcher-bearers or the stretcher-bearer alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Litter-bearer was more acute


Martine Da Silva-Vion, Jacques Theureau, "Stretcher bearers Autonomy Coordination with Units" in Healthcare systems ergonomics and patient safety, human factor, a bridge between care and cure, Riccardo Tartaglia, Sabastiano Bagnara, Tommaso Bellandi, Sara Abolino (editors), Taylor & Francis, London, 2005, 546 pages, § page 185-196.

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