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Boston To Use New Ambulance Lift, Stretcher For Obese Patients

ROXBURY (CBS) - The obesity problem in America has been creating some unique challenges for emergency workers, as some patients they are trying to save are too large for the emergency equipment.

Boston now has a solution to that problem: a custom-made hydraulic lift capable of lifting 1,000 pounds.

Why would Boston EMT's need such power?

"In this profession, that is one of our biggest injuries is back injuries, and that's what really cuts a lot of our folks from stop doing their job because it's the injuries that they develop doing their job," said Capt. Jose Archila, Boston EMS.

Every week, EMT's respond to 911 calls and can find an obese person weighing 500-700 pounds. It takes a lot of manpower to get that patient into the ambulance.

"Four folks, so it would be two ambulances and a supervisor, and then sometimes we have to call in the fire department to give us extra hands," said Capt. Archila.

In some cases, it's even difficult to lift an average-sized person. So now, Boston EMS has spent $20,000 on a specially designed stretcher that can hold 800 pounds and the new hydraulic lift.

"They already know that when the call comes in from a certain address, they already know it's going to be a bariatric patient. At no time is any care gonna be delayed," said Capt. Archila.

A regular ambulance crew will respond initially to a 911 call, and then they'll radio for the special ambulance if it's needed.

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