Heavy-duty stretchers costing counties a pretty penny

BATH COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Many industries are having to adjust for a bigger population, and that includes emergency services. Small counties in Kentucky are finding a greater need for help lifting patients, and in emergencies every moment counts.

Power lift stretchers are rare to find in Kentucky towns. Bath County's lucky enough to have two power lift stretchers, and Morgan County crews have them too.

"In the past we'd have to run an extra crew out just to help with the lifting, but now we don't have to run an extra crew because we've got the equipment to lift the patient," explains Morgan County Ambulance Director Jimmy Conley.

Conley says a new stretcher costs about $14,000, but is well worth the price.

"You can definitely notice a difference at the end of your shift from your back, whether you were using the power stretcher or not," notes Bath County EMS Director Gary Bealert. Bealert estimates patient weight has gone up, on average, about 50 pounds in the last decade. He says his crews at times have to lift people weighing more than 500 pounds, putting a strain on the backs of emergency responders.

"Most EMS workers they stand an almost 50% chance of back injury, some kind of injury on the job," says Conley.

They're stretchers even larger counties, like Rowan, want to buy. EMS crews there tell WKYT they're currently checking the budget for available funds.

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