First Responders Meet Needs of Obese Patients

By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
By: Elizabeth Schilder Email

Obesity is a growing problem in our nation today. More than one third of all adults in America are now classified as obese. Not only is being overweight a risk to the individual, but also to the people charged with saving them.

Evan McBain is a lieutenant for the Weston Fire Department. He's been a firefighter for more than 18 years. But about a year ago, he was knocked out of commission after suffering a hernia while moving an overweight patient on a call. Unfortunately injuries like his are not uncommon in this line of work.

"We are experts at moving people of all different sizes and shapes. We have to be. That's, that's one of our main functions, to take people that can't take themselves to get medical care and we get them there," Lt. McBain said.

After six months of rehab and a $12,000 procedure, Lt. McBain is back on the job, but warns injuries like his could affect the department's ability to respond.

"It could result in us having to work short, a person down and obviously not having as many people at an emergency scene right away," Lt. McBain told NewsChannel 7.

That's what led Weston to invest in some new heavy duty equipment.

"We have a brand new system that just came out that's nearly hands free for loading and unloading the ambulance cot," Lt. McBain explained. "This new cot system that we have is battery operated, hydraulic powered and it will lift 700 pounds completely unassisted."

The cot system cost the fire department $25,000.

Lt. McBain says it's a price worth paying,"If it can save one back injury then it's absolutely worth it."

All local fire departments have hydraulic cots, but Weston's is the only one to have a track that lowers the cot from the ambulance hands free. Lt. McBain says the only draw back of the new system is that sometimes the cots just aren't wide enough for the patient.

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