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Boston Ambulance Custom-Made for Fattest Patients

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(CBS) They super-size French fries, so why not ambulances?

Boston's Emergency Medical Services is rolling out an ambulance specially outfitted for morbidly obese patients. It's not actually bigger than ordinary ambulances, but it sports a hydraulic lift and a high-capacity stretcher (rated at 850 pounds) to get the truly tubby into and out of the vehicle with minimal effort, the Boston Globe reported.

That's good news not just for patients but also for emergency medical technicians, according to the Globe.

"With a 300-pound patient, it's not too bad, or even 400 pounds,'' Jose A. Archila, a Boston EMS captain, told the paper. "But to be honest with you, with a 500-, 600-, 700-pound patient - it's just too much for you.''

Boston isn't alone in its efforts to accommodate the fattest of the fat, a population that rose 75 percent nationally from 2000 to 2005, according to the Globe. Other cities have added special ambulances to their fleets, including Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Omaha, according to

In Toronto, old ambulances are being replaced with models that "kneel" to make things easier on patients and EMTs, according to the Globe.

Boston's EMS will dispatch the special ambulance - retrofitted at a cost of $12,000 - only when it's clear that extra carrying capacity is needed.

"Is this totally, 100 percent foolproof?" Boston EMS Captain Phil McGovern asked? "Absolutely not. We've still got to get them out of the house."

Talk about a heavy responsibility.

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