Power Lifts to Reduce Injuries for Paramedics

By Gateway Gazette

Jul 16

Repetitive patient lifting is one of the leading causes of injury to paramedics so the province is investing in new equipment to make their work safer.

Paramedics Kaitlyn Kowalkowski and Richard Norton with the power stretchers and load system

More than 350 Alberta Health Services (AHS) ground ambulances will be equipped with power stretchers and load systems. The stretchers use a battery-powered hydraulic system to lift up to 317 kilograms (700 pounds) safely and without physical strain.

“Alberta paramedics dedicate their work every day to saving lives. We want to make sure they can perform their jobs without risk of injury. Installing this new lift technology will mean a safer workplace for paramedics, by helping protect them from work-related physical strain and injury.”

Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health

Alberta Health Services installed electronic lifts in eight inter-facility transfer vehicles in 2015 as part of a pilot project. During that time, not a single lift-related injury was reported by staff using the new equipment. Over that same 18-month period, 84 patient-handling injuries were reported amongst EMS staff working on vehicles without the lifts.

“Protecting the health and safety of our staff is one of our top priorities. Every employee deserves to work in the safest environment possible and it is our job to ensure that happens.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

The government is investing $20 million to equip AHS ground ambulances with the power stretchers and load systems. The equipment will also be standard issue in all new AHS ground ambulances.

“Repetitive lifting is one of the leading causes of injuries to EMS practitioners. The new power stretchers and lift system will reduce the frequency of front-line crews having to physically lift patients in and out of ambulances, reducing the risk of injuries.”

Darren Sandbeck, EMS chief paramedic, Alberta Health Services

“This is a great start. Our members work hard to help and heal patients. Far too often they become patients because of unnecessary injuries they suffer at work.”

Mike Parker, president, Health Sciences Association of Alberta

Installation of the new equipment will begin this summer on ambulances across the province with the work anticipated to be complete by spring 2018.

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