An ambulance for very obese ordered for city

Hydraulic lift will load, unload patients


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The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service has ordered a special ambulance to transport very obese patients.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/03/2010 (4539 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service has ordered a special ambulance to transport very obese patients.

Crestline Coach, a Saskatoon vehicle manufacturer, is building what’s known as a bariatric ambulance for use by Winnipeg paramedics, WFPS Chief Jim Brennan said Monday.

The custom-built vehicle, which is slated to arrive in Winnipeg in two or three weeks, will be able to transport patients who weigh more than 400 pounds, Brennan said.

The city needs a bariatric ambulance to preserve the dignity of very large patients and also maintain the safety of emergency workers who care for them, the chief said.

"Patients are getting bigger," Brennan said following a budget presentation to city councillors.

Winnipeg already has a demonstrated need for a bariatric ambulance, the chief said. Currently, paramedics transport very obese patients with the help of a regular ambulance that’s been modified through the installation of a ramp and a winch, he said.

"It’s less than ideal, because it’s not purpose-built," Brennan said.

The bariatric ambulance on order comes with a hydraulic lift system that will assist emergency personnel with loading and unloading, said Jim Morrow, vice-president and co-owner of Crestline Coach.

Bariatric ambulances cost $15,000 to $20,000 more than the $110,000 average cost of a regular ambulance, not counting additional medical equipment, he said.

"Each city the size of Winnipeg should have one or two," Morrow said.

Though Crestline Coach has never built a bariatric ambulance before, the lift system it’s installing for the Winnipeg vehicle is commonly used for this purpose across North America, he said.

Both Morrow and Brennan said they expect the need for bariatric ambulances will increase in the future as North America’s population ages and becomes more obese.

Roughly one-quarter of Canadian adults are considered obese and slightly more than one-third are considered overweight, Statistics Canada reported in January.

The trend is expected to continue unless Canadians makes significant changes to their eating and exercise habits, Canada’s chief public health officer told reporters at the time.

Custom-built ambulances are not the only piece of bariatric equipment required by the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service. Larger patients also require longer needles, special stretchers and wider blood-pressure monitors, Brennan said.

Procedures are also in place to deal with situations where very large patients need to be transported out of locations they might not have left for a while, such as a third-floor apartment in a building with no elevator, he said.

The bariatric ambulance heading to Winnipeg will be leased by the Winnipeg Fleet Management Agency, Brennan said.


Cadets, budget, bikes dealt with by panel

Decisions made Monday by city council’s protection and community services committee:

Police cadets: Couns. Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas), Grant Nordman (St. Charles), Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) and Lillian Thomas (Elmwood) voted to create an auxiliary police cadet program that would cost $1.5 million to $2 million a year. The program would see the Winnipeg Police Service hire 50 cadets to perform minor duties such as traffic control, freeing officers for other calls. Mayor Sam Katz wanted the province to foot the bill, but provincial Justice Minister Andrew Swan rejected the plan because the city didn’t want to share the burden and placed a greater emphasis on funding for a police helicopter. The decision still needs approval from executive policy committee on March 17 and council as a whole on March 23.

2010 operating budget: The committee amended Winnipeg’s $817.6-million spending blueprint for this year by voting to provide $25,500 in additional funding for the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre and $110,000 for the Spence Neighbourhood Association. This decision also faces EPC and council scrutiny.

Road rules for cyclists: Councillors agreed with a transportation report and rejected the idea of allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs when no pedestrians, motor vehicles or other bikes are present. But the same report calls for the city to ask the Active Transportation Advisory Committee, a group that provides input to the city’s trail-building effort, to identify bike routes where stop signs could be removed. This plan goes to council on March 24.

– Kives

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