Alberta government funds project for new stretchers
Alberta Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman talking with Rae-Ann Hanson about the new power stretchers being introduced in late October in Camrose, Alta. on Aug. 21, 2017. Ryan Stelter/Camrose Canadian
Paramedics in Camrose will be getting a load off their backs with a new power stretcher system.
On Monday, Alberta Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman was in Camrose to tour the Alberta Health Services ambulance station in town and to learn about the $20 million investment for new power stretchers and load systems.
More than 350 AHS ground ambulances will be equipped with power stretchers and load systems. In the Camrose area, there will be three added to ambulances. The stretchers use a battery powered hydraulic system to lift up to 700 pounds without physical strain.
In 2015, AHS ran a pilot project and installed electronic lifts in a select few transfer vehicles, and what they found during the 18-month period were no reported lift injuries. Also during that time, there were 84 patient handling injuries reported during that time span without the lifts.
"This is really about investing in making sure that our staff have the right tools to keep patients safe and to reduce workplace injuries," Hoffman said. "The vast majority of injuries that paramedics face is around backs and knees."
Hoffman said she is getting a lot of positive feedback from paramedics across the province.
"I was talking to a paramedic in Fairview, and he was in his 60s and he wanted to keep working but he was worried about his body," he said. "Now that he's getting a power stretcher and lift up there he's confident his body will hold up for at least another 10 years."
The investment will help paramedics focus on providing healthcare, rather than their own health becoming jeopardized.
"We really want to make sure that our healthcare providers are providing healthcare and not be worried about their backs and their knees and potentially dropping a patient," Hoffman said. "That's why having technology work with health professionals really does create better opportunities for reducing costs on injuries and other areas, as well as protecting the workers and the patients."
The associate executive director of clinical operations in the central zone with AHS, Lyle McKellar said emergency medical services has a high disabling injury rate.
"Our biggest problem was back injuries, our disabling rate for back injuries are the highest in AHS, if you look at the disabling injury rates in AHS, emergency medical services have the highest disabling injury rate," he said.
The introduction of these stretchers is a welcome change to McKellar, and they hope to have these power stretchers installed in Camrose by end of October.
"I think having the equipment is a very positive move, and that's around reducing disabling injury rates with lifting," he said. "It's just another tool in our arsenal to better manage patient care and improve staff safety."