MorganRants

Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Increasing Obesity Requires New Ambulance Equipment

Posted by morganwrites on April 19, 2008

(NYT) – CONCORD, N.H. — Calls from obese patients had increased nearly 25 percent in recent years, and the Fire Department could no longer handle them.

The department’s gurneys could not adequately support the patients’ weight, and the department had to pay a private ambulance company.

Last fall, the department bought three gurneys that can hold patients weighing up to 600 pounds, about twice the holding capacity of a regular stretcher.

“We had to do something,” Acting Chief Tim McGinley said. “It was one of those things where we would try to use the equipment we had and were afraid that you were going to end up hurting somebody, the patients themselves or the staff.”

As obesity rates increase around the country, fire departments and emergency medical workers are responding similarly.

“I think everybody is moving to a stretcher that has a higher weight capacity,” said Jerry Johnston of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, president of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. “We have to be able to deal with it and have the equipment to take care of those people appropriately. It’s part of our job.”

But the effort can be expensive.

A bariatric ambulance that can transport patients weighing up to 1,000 pounds costs $110,000 to build, compared with $70,000 for a standard ambulance, said Doug Moore, a spokesman for American Medical Response, which operates 4,200 ambulances nationwide.

A bariatric cot costs around $4,000, four times the price of a regular cot.

Fire Chief Tim Robbins of Gilmanton, N.H., received $15,800 from the town for new equipment that can hold patients weighing up to 650 pounds.

“People should have a fair shake when they’re transported to the hospital,” Chief Robbins said.

Jerry Socha, a spokesman for Ferno, which sells emergency medical equipment, said that the company started increasing production of bariatric products about five years ago and that sales had steadily increased.

“A lot of the motivation was our customers,” Mr. Socha said, speaking of the emergency workers, “who are experiencing a higher call volume regarding bariatric patients.”

Some departments say they bought the equipment to help prevent injuries to patients and first responders.

Mike Smith, director of emergency medical services in Durham, N.C., bought bariatric cots in 2004, after several paramedics had strained their backs and injured their shoulders transporting patients on inadequate equipment.

The stretchers operate on battery power and lift patients, so paramedics do not have to hoist patients into ambulances.

Mr. Johnston, in Iowa, said the equipment should be standard.

“If something collapses, you injure a patient and yourself,” he said. “We’re in the people business. We’re about taking care of people who get sick and hurt, and we have to be prepared for anything.”

No need for new equipment. You can hire all the truck drivers who are out of business because the price of diesel is $4.35 a gallon where I live. Just make sure you have a fork lift and a sling. Hell, I just might buy a flat bed truck and start another business.

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