Fire department to get new equipment to help obese patients

Lifting people into ambulances is hard work for first responders. They say they're noticing it's tougher lately because people are gaining weight. 

Stretchers are able to lift patients off the ground and into an ambulance.

"You push the button down and, essentially, it lifts the stretcher up and down," said Jeremy Jeffrey, executive director at Mercy Regional EMS.  

Jeffrey says when using these stretchers recently, his crew noticed a trend.
"The population overall — not just here, but across the United States — is getting more and more obese. It's something we notice daily," Jeffrey said.

The situation is even worse in Graves County at the Mayfield Fire Department.

"It's a problem loading them into the ambulance," Mayfield Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Creason said.

He says out of about 20 calls they respond to per day, two to three involve a patient who is more than 300 pounds.

"Take two people managing a 300 pound person, going up and down steps, around furniture. It's tough," Creason said.

He says responders are getting injured. 

"Back injuries, knee injuries, shoulder injuries from lifting our patients," Creason said. 

A $250,000 grant will cover the costs of a specialized ambulance able to lift all patients.

"We want to give our guys the best chance, best equipment possible to go help people," Creason said.

With the new equipment he says his firefighters will be able to help more people, minus the risk of some bumps and bruises.

The Mayfield Fire Department will get the new ambulance in the next six to seven months. Jeffrey says Mercy Regional EMS does not have enough obese patients to invest in that type of equipment.

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