Friday, June 21, 2013

Power Up (And Down)

AFD  Assistant Chief McKay unloading power cot from A1

The Amherst Fire Department is testing a new medical device that may not be a lifesaver, but it will most certainly be a backsaver.  For them.

Assistant Chief Don McKay remembers back in the late 1990s on one particularly tying call, two full time professional EMTs  injured their backs simultaneously. He remembers it well since he was one of the responders injured, and as a result he was out of work for a few months.

About one quarter of all workman's compensation claims each year are due to back injuries.  Such mishaps are expensive for employers, reduce company morale and can break up experienced squads who rely on knowing their partners.

Stryker power cot
Yes like most "medical devices" the power cots are expensive, between $12,000 and $14,000 each depending on accessories, versus a non powered unit at $3,500. But they eliminate three or four lifts per average incident and that's three or four opportunities for a back injury eliminated as well.

 Non powered unit (Ferno 35A)

The extra heavy duty units weigh 125 pounds and are rated to carry 800 pounds.  While traditional non powered units, which weigh 75 pounds, max out at 350 pound loads.  And these days it is not all that uncommon to be confronted by an extra heavy-weight patient.

The test unit has been in use only since Monday;  so far the feedback has been all positive. Ideally the department would order five units, one for each ambulance.

 24 volt battery is good for twenty runs between charges

Town Meeting unanimously approved AFD's FY14 (starts July 1) $211,000 capital budget for new turnout gear, training dummies, command vehicle and five "Lucas" automatic CPR devices, one for each ambulance. 

Fortunately the state came through with a grant to cover 90% of the $70,000 cost of the Lucas devices.  And since both the Lucas devices and power cots are classified as "medical devices," Town Meeting would probably consider the redirection of the funds now to purchasing the power cots as falling "within the scope of the article".

For instance, last year Town Meeting appropriated monies for four new police cruisers and APD only ended up needing three, so the remaining money was redirected to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle coming off lease and a used transport van.

Amherst prides itself on staying ahead of the curve.  These power cots are just another way of rolling firmly into the future.


Anonymous said...

Larry, exactly how many 800 lb UMass students are there? I actually know several who weigh less than the 125 lb electric lift intended to carry/lift them. So is AFD going to get a lift for the lift?

And when is the AFD union going to be honest and admit that the UM runs, on average, aren't as intense or difficult as the town runs?

Thomas Valle, Secretary, Amherst Firefighters Local 1764 said...

The Amherst Fire Fighters Local 1764 recognizes the facts. Runs to the UMass campus make up approximately 25% of the emergency calls that AFD responds to. Their level of difficulty or intensity, on average, is no different than the average difficulty or intensity of any other run.