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Officials hope new stretchers will reduce EMS injuries
SPLOST funds to pay for equipment
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Hall County Fire Services will be getting 16 new Stryker Power-Pro stretchers, which officials hope will provide better patient security and also better health for EMS paramedics. The stretcher features a battery-powered hydraulic system that raises and lowers patients simply by pushing a button, which will reduce strenuous lifting for paramedics. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Stretchers arriving in the coming months are expected to take a load off the backs of emergency medical responders.

“Back injuries account for a lot of lost work time and cost in our industry,” Hall County Deputy Fire Chief Chad Black said.

Hall County recently approved a roughly $266,000 equipment leasing agreement for 16 stretchers from Stryker, which allows for the legs to electrically retract when placing the patient in the ambulance.

“When the medics go in to load it, they’re having to lift the legs. This one does it for you,” said Stryker account manager Allison Linn while demonstrating a test device. “It’s a back-injury reducing piece of equipment, basically.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2012 data, an estimated 24,200 emergency medical service workers were treated for various injuries and illnesses. More than a third of those workers were seen for sprains and strains.

Between July 2013 and May 2015, Hall County paid out $1.06 million in worker’s compensations, according to a previous report in The Times. Multiple reports in a list provided in an open records request reference strain from lifting patients on stretchers.

The stretcher agreement comes at a time when the industry standards are changing in terms of safety and security for stretchers. After July 1 of this year, new ambulances will need an upgraded locking system.

“Ambulance wrecks and things like that, the stretcher would come undone and then the patient and the stretcher would become a projectile,” Black said, referencing incidents from other places around the country.

A set of 16 stretchers is supposed to arrive for the Hall County fleet to outfit the ambulances coming from SPLOST funding.

“With SPLOST coming on and ambulances we’re going to get, the new ones would have had it, but our current old ones have all the old systems in it,” Black said.

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