Williamstown (VA) Installs New Ambulance Gear

To improve patient care and protect the safety of emergency medical technicians, Village Ambulance has equipped a new ambulance with gear to allow safer transport of bariatric patients.

Bariatric medicine is the treatment of obesity and the health liabilities that come with it, and the ambulance service has been experiencing a significant increase in the number of bariatric patients needing transport.

“We have found that there are more patients requiring this kind of service,” said Shawn Godfrey, general manager of Village Ambulance. “We’re seeing about two patients per month that meet the body mass index definition of a bariatric patient. About five years ago, we were only seeing about one every six months.”

Transporting bariatric patients — who can weigh between 350 to 650 pounds and typically suffer from heart disease, diabetes or respiratory issues — presents a unique challenge for EMTs, usually requiring four to five crew members to safely move the patient in and out of a conventional ambulance, Godfrey noted. The new bariatric gear will allow the same work to be done by three crew members.

The ambulance with the bariatric gear was delivered Friday, and will be on 24-hour active duty, Godfrey said. The gear consists of a winch, two ramps and a specialized stretcher built with a wider wheelbase and wider surface to handle more weight and larger dimensions. The cot also has extended push bars for easier, more stable navigation, and an “O” ring to connect with the winch.

Godfrey said that in under 60 seconds, the gear can be installed in the back of the ambulance patient compartment. With the winch cable attached to the stretcher, the patient can be towed up the ramp and into the ambulance with improved safety for both the patient and the EMTs.

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