Feb. 15—Ambulances in the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services are getting new stretchers and stair chairs this week to provide better patient and provider safety, Fire Chief Tom Coe said.
This week, all 43 volunteer and career ambulances are each getting one new stretcher and one new stair chair, Coe said.
Lift systems for the stretchers are being installed into ambulances that don’t already have one, to allow for stretchers to be lifted in and out of the ambulance with the push of a button.
The stretchers, which come from the medical technology company Stryker, are battery powered, so they can be lifted up and down with a button, rather than having a person bend over and lift heavy weight, Tom DeLore, a Stryker representative, said.
The total cost for the upgrades is $2.4 million, Coe said.
“So, the lift systems that we’re installing in the ambulance, the power cots … are a huge reducer of risk for our employees and in turn, they improve the safety for our patients that we’re transporting on a daily basis,” he said.
The upgrades increase safety for providers by removing the constant bending over and lifting that comes with taking a patient out of a house, into an ambulance, out of the ambulance and into the hospital.
They also increase patient safety, since the stretchers and lift system allow for more stability.
The stretchers can lift up to 700 pounds, DeLore said. There’s also a button to set the stretcher at a standard level to roll the stretcher, so it won’t be too high to tip over or too low when the patient is being taken to the ambulance.
The lift system also takes the load off providers from having to haul a stretcher in and out of the ambulance. Emergency services personnel will now pull the stretcher out, press a button to lower the legs of the stretcher and remove it from the ambulance, all while keeping the patient in a stable, horizontal position.
It works the opposite way to put the stretcher in the ambulance.
The stair chairs can help providers bring people down stairs, with limited jostling. It extends into a stretcher-type chair, and has treads on the bottom to stay stable while rolling down stairs.
The upgrade also allows for standardization for ambulances. Some ambulances had newer cots and lift systems, but others had the older cots that require heavy lifting and unfolding stretchers.
Firefighter and EMT Corey Rice, who is usually stationed in Urbana, which had a newer stretcher system that didn’t require a lot of heavy lifting, said he’s excited about having better equipment.
“I would have to, like, fully lift the full weight of a person. Now, you can literally load them up with one finger basically,” he said.
For him, standardizing the equipment is what he would feel most, considering that he moves from station to station.
“Going into, like, work at other stations, you definitely feel the difference,” he said.
The stretchers and stair chairs should last about 10 and 7 years, respectively, DeLore said, but the county is under a service plan that should extend the life expectancy of the equipment.
Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief of Administrative Services Steve Leatherman said the upgrade will also help Fire and Rescue save money, since it can transfer the equipment to new ambulances rather than buying all new equipment.
Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel
(c)2023 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)
Visit The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.) at www.fredericknewspost.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.