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Stair chair gives EMS a lift

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By Jerianne Strange

 LaRue County ambulance personnel are getting a lift … literally.

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The county’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has purchased two motorized stretchers and two stair chairs. The items are designed to assist emergency personnel in safely moving patients and to provide patients with a smoother, safer transport, said Mike Cottrell, EMS director.

“Safety is the main thing,” Cottrell said. “These are for the safety of our personnel and for the safety of the patient.”

The motorized stretchers – or power cots – can accommodate patients up to 700 pounds, he said. The stretchers operate on an 18-volt battery, which raises or lowers the cot. The county purchased two, one for each ambulance, Cottrell said. The units were put into use Dec. 15.

Cottrell said the hydraulic lift system is an asset when dealing with a heavier patient.

“The stretcher weighs 100 pounds empty,” he said. “If crews are dealing with a stretcher and have a patient who weighs 200 pounds, they are now working with 300 pounds.”

EMS personnel and patients are pleased with the new cots, he said. Patients have said the transport is smoother and easier, he added.

The two stretchers cost about $13,000, Cottrell said. Money from the Senate Bill 66 (SB66) grant was used to pay part of the cost. SB66 allocated money for EMS systems across the state to purchase equipment.

LaRue County EMS also bought two new stair chairs. One chair is already in use, with the second expected to be in service later this month, Cottrell said. The new chairs replace equipment that had been in use since the mid-1980s.

Cottrell said the new design of the chairs features a track on the back, which allows for smooth movement up or down stairs. He added the chairs have a braking device, which enhances the stability and safety and can be used much like a wheelchair. Since the chair is able to pivot, it’s much easier to use in a tight area, he said.

The chairs are a great resource “in a trailer or small home where a stretcher won’t fit,” Cottrell said. A patient is strapped into the chair and can be moved more easily and safely.

The chairs cost $2,500 each and were purchased with money from the county’s general fund, he said.