With obesity epidemic, the need for larger, wider stretchers - Fox 2 News Headlines

With obesity epidemic, the need for larger, wider stretchers

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Rescue crews are changing with the times as more of the American population puts on weight. Equipment used in emergency situations has to change too. There is new gear for plus-sized patients.

The gurneys are wider and so is the ambulance.

Southwest Ambulance has the specialized equipment in certain spots across the valley.

The typical gurney is about 23 inches but this gurney, known as a bariatric gurney, is 29 inches. It's intended for patients who weigh more than 350 pounds. The ambulances have to be specialized too.

"These ambulances are a little wider therefore they accommodate the gurney for the bariatric patient," says Jess Strizek of Southwest Ambulance.

Without these gurneys and ambulances, transporting a large patient requires a lot of resources.

"It would take a minimum of four. Six to be safe but a minimum of four and we have two man crews so you are going to get two, four, six."

But this equipment makes moving those patients much easier.

"Any call that I have been on where I have had a patient that would not fit on a regular gurney whether it be for height to weight ratio or weight alone, we have waited for a bariatric gurney."

These large gurneys are $7,000 a piece, about $2,500 more than a typical gurney.

"We have 5 or 6 bariatric gurneys strategically located throughout the county that an ambulance can stop by pick up the gurney then go out on the call."

Because all this equipment is more expensive, that means it costs more to be transported in one.

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