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Emergency Crew Prepare For a Heavy Lift

Emergency Crew Prepare For a Heavy Lift

Emergency crew in ambulances is preparing to carry heavy loads- this includes heavy loads of up to 800 pounds. As the number of morbidly obese adults in America undergoes a steady increase, there is a rise in the number of super size patients. This requires a lot of effort, not to mention creativity, during a real emergency.

Brawny firefighters are being included on a daily basis to tackle the rise in the number of such patients. Makeshift pulleys, hydraulic trucks and tarp are also being used to move patients both within the house and to the hospital.

Emergency workers express doubts about their own safety when they are confronted with the task of lifting obese people. Even though the development of newer techniques and devices are making the process simpler and more dignified for the patients concerned also, there is no doubt that the expensive nature of the machines is discouraging its use. The American Medical Response in Independence is the only centre which has a bariatric ambulance. This was added to deal with the increasing number of 350 pound plus cases that were coming in. It is also sent to other cities if needed for an emergency purpose. AMR got calls for 60 transportations in its bariatric units in May. This is triple the number it recorded in January.

A bariatric ambulance has shocks and a reinforced floor. It also has a motorized winch which pulls a loaded gurney. These can hold up to 850 pounds, as compared to the 450 pounds of standard cots. It can hold up to 1600 pounds when lowered.

The Metropolitan Ambulance Services trust in Kansas plans to add a unit this fall.

There are a number of problems in transporting morbidly obese patients. Take the case of a patient who weighed approximately 800 pounds and went into cardiac arrest in his basement. About 15 people were needed to pull him out on a tarp. Though paramedics got him to a hospital, he died within a few days. A few years back, a hole had to be cut in a house to bring out an obese man. He was found with waste and food around him, too obese to move. In another case, a 750 pound man had to be moved in a medical supply company truck that had a hydraulic lift. A paramedic then climbed in and drove him to the hospital.

These calls can be costly and risky. Patients are at risk of falling off on narrow cots and the paramedics bear a risk of potential injury when they are carrying them. There is an added sense of indignity with these patients at the way they are carried. Ambulance workers feel the need for specialized equipment to deal with these patients. For this reason, there is an increasing stress on securing this equipment, even though they are often costly.

More than 1/4th of the American population is obese. The percentage of morbidly obese adults is about 6%.


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