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POWER LOAD: New Technology For Obese Patients

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The Saylor Township Fire Department is using the latest equipment for medical emergencies.  Now, a job that used to take a lot of muscle only requires a push of a button.

“They can be obese or not obese, but patients are just getting flat-out bigger,” says Saylor Township Assistant Fire Chief Scott Cross.

One press of a button is easing their burden.  The volunteer fire department is one of the first in the state to use this new technology.  The Stryker Power-LOAD can lift a patient weighing up to 700 pounds.

“We've actually had one patient now that was in excess of 500 pounds and it lifted him up and put him on the cot and one person ran the whole thing,” says Cross.

The mechanical cot loader is designed to help prevent common back injuries that happen when firefighters lift heavy patients.

“It would be nice to have.   Right now, a lot of the smaller ambulances don't have the personnel on call so it's real beneficial for them,” says Des Moines Fire Captain Steve Brown.

Brown says the department has plenty of bodies to do the heavy lifting, but the cost is the biggest deterrent.  The power loader has a price tag of more than $20,000.

“That's something that right now is not in the budget,” says Brown.

In Saylor Township, firefighters say it's worth it to let the machine do the work.

“We use it for every call now.  No matter how big or big small the patient is,” says Cross.

The department says it gave members the option of getting a raise or buying the mechanical loader and they made their choice.