There are at least two big challenges to loading bariatric patients: safety (theirs and yours) and dignity (theirs). Pulling them up ramps with winches and tow cables benefits the first, but doesn’t do much for the second. The alternative being used in Johnson County, KS, is more protective of both.
Since 2010, local provider Johnson County Med-Act has fielded a truck with a hydraulic lift from Mac’s Lift Gate, Inc. The company’s ambulance lift can smoothly raise and lower up to 750 lbs., or up to 1,300 in its bariatric version.
“We always want to try to preserve our patients’ dignity,” says Med-Act Division Chief Roger Lippert. “We felt pulling them onto the ramp and using the lift, which only takes 30 seconds to get them into the back of the ambulance, does that.”
Previously, Med-Act had called upon a regional resource from a neighboring community to handle its very large patients. But that couldn’t always arrive quickly, and anyway relied on the winch-and-cable loading the service wanted to move past. If a patient couldn’t wait, providers would often forge on ahead with many hands lifting. Obviously, that posed the injury risk everyone wanted to avoid.
Now the truck with the lift has racked up around 60 transports and is deployed about five times a month. It’s been used on patients from 350–675 lbs. and is called on as a mutual aid resource for adjoining counties. Providers like its ease of use, and patient reviews are positive as well.
“We have patients who have been transported by both the bariatric and a regular ambulance, and we’ve asked them which they preferred,” Lippert says. “They told us they preferred the wider stretcher and smoother lift of the bariatric truck, and they felt more comfortable and secure using the ramp than having eight firefighters and paramedics try to lift them. So that made us feel pretty good.”