New Logo.PNG

Lexington County EMS installing patient loading systems that curb injuries to employees

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – Any good business manager will tell you that the most expensive thing they have in their company is people. For some jobs, computers can do some of the thinking while in others, a robot might be able to do a repetitive job very well. The thing is, no matter how many gadgets we invent or buy, you still need some people to make them go like they should. The problem is, people can be much more expensive to train than a computer and more expensive to maintain than a robot. That’s why a smart manager or employer takes good care of his people if he possibly can; it not only makes sense from your heart not to hurt employees, it also makes sense for your wallet if it likes to hold on to your money when it can.

Recently, Lexington County EMS started installing new stretcher loading systems in their EMS units that take much better care of their people. Too often, their employees would hurt their backs, shoulders, or some other part that would put them out of work, home in bed, or worse on an operating table, just because they picked someone up that was too heavy. I know some of you may be shocked, but we as a country are getting heavier and wider and that is taking its toll on our EMS crews. When we need to be lifted from ground to an ambulance and can’t climb in ourselves, the crews need a little help to get you safely loaded and secure inside the truck for your ride to the hospital.

The Stryker Power-Load system the county is installing uses hydraulics to load the stretchers into the back of the ambulance for transport of a patient. The cots we use can power-lift a dead weight of 400 pounds unassisted, and the addition of the Power-Load system can put anyone up to 700 pounds safely in the back of the ambulance; it really loads them in the back of an EMS unit with ease. That means that it will grab the Stryker cots or stretchers we are using, power it into the truck using hydraulics, and latch itself safely in with almost no physical assistance from the EMS crew. Literally it’s as easy as pushing some buttons. Sure, our crews aren’t encountering 700-pound people daily, but if they lift 10, 12, 15 people a day that easily top 200 pounds, the wear and tear on their bodies is there, it’s real!

There are other benefits from these new systems to the patients as well. Last year, DHEC, the state agency that regulates and dictates EMS standards in SC, began mandating that new ambulances trucks and cots have a G-rating. That means that the patient must stay secure on the cot, and the cot must stay secured in the truck, even if the unit rolls over. These new Stryker cots meet those G-ratings standards safely securing the patient just as a seatbelt would hold you in your car.

The newer Stryker stretchers also have wider sides so that those of us with wider hips and posteriors will fit more comfortably with the protective sidebars up. In the past, these bars had to be left down if your hips wouldn’t fit. There’s even a bariatric cot we have that can handle patients up to 1,600 pounds if that’s needed. It’s available in a central location if necessary and can be quickly taken to a scene.

The Power-Load systems are costing the county about $21,600 per truck if a unit is fitted with a whole new system. Older model cots can be upfitted to work with the Power-Load at a slightly lower cost. If you did a cost benefit analysis and compare the cost of the cots, the loading systems, and their maintenance to one back or shoulder surgery on an employee, you’d quickly conclude this is a bargain. Even if you discounted the cost after a surgery like therapy for an employee, the expense of worker’s compensation or God forbid, the retirement cost for someone who can’t come back at all, the loss of the experience, the street smarts, the knowledge and training hours we lose when we hurt an employee is unmeasurable. In short, these systems are a no-brainer for us!

All of our brand-new EMS units are coming with these systems installed. Some older units may also be upfitted as the budget allows. Eventually, we may be able to stop our crews from lifting stretchers into the back of the trucks altogether and let the Power-Loads do all the heavy lifting for us.

Investing dollars in protecting our people only makes sense. As the old saying goes, you can pay me

now, or you can pay me later. In the case of the people who keep us safe each day on the streets of Lexington County, I’ll gladly pay up-front to protect them in the long run.

Call the Editor
(803) 587-3144

Counter reset on January 30, 2018 with total hits of 966,512 to date

Call Paul Kirby

(803) 587-3144