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SEOEMS adds innovation to equipment

CHESAPEAKE — As the obesity crisis continues to take over the nation, those on the front lines of health care find they are facing special challenges.

That’s why Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services has added a special piece of equipment for its paramedics to use. It is a specially equipped bariatric cot that can accommodate a patient who weighs up to 1,000 pounds.

“We have a lot of obese patients and it is for our health and our backs,” Brandon Best, Chesapeake Fire Chief and SEOEMS paramedic, said.

The bariatric cot is the standard one used by the paramedics that has been refitted with a special panel that can accommodate the weight of the obese patient.

A regular cot can hold the weight of a patient up to 650 pounds and is 24 inches wide. The refitted cot has added 24 more inches to the width at a cost of $8,500.

There is also a winch system with ramps that will slowly and carefully haul the patient and cot into the ambulance. The ramps can also be attached to a front porch to make transporting the patient from home to ambulance easier.

One of the goals of the new cot is to make the ambulance ride a more comfortable experience for the patient as well.

“The Center for Disease Control has said the prevalence of obesity in the United States has doubled in the last 20 years,” Eric Kuhn, SEOMES executive director, said. “In Ohio it’s 25 to 29 percent of the population. We will see the cot being used more and more.”

The cot was unveiled Tuesday morning at the SEOMES office in Chesapeake where the Lawrence County Commissioners were in attendance.

“This is for the patients’ safety and for staff safety,” Commissioner Les Boggs said. “If you can save one Workman’s Comp claim, it will be worth it.”