Tennessee Ambulance Equipped to Carry Obese Patients

March 22, 2012

A fire department in Memphis, Tenn., has added an ambulance that can accommodate patients weighing up to 1,600 pounds.

The so-called “bariatric ambulance” is equipped with a winch and an extra-large stretcher.

Deputy Fire Chief Gary Ludwig told The Commercial Appeal that they transport patients in the 600- to 800-pound range about once a week and have seen some patients weighing more than 1,000 pounds.

Without specialized equipment, extra firefighters have to be called in to help lift and move extremely obese patients, and they often are transported on the floor of the ambulance.

In 2009, Memphis firefighters cut plywood from the wall of a house to make a makeshift stretcher for a 700-pound man.

Ludwig said the bariatric ambulance will provide patients with dignity. It also will save firefighters’ backs.

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