Ambulance needs Rescue Board to help carry overweight patients

Ambulance. Source: Vladislava Snurnikova/ERR

The Tallinn ambulance service has recently acquired more equipment, which helps them carry overweight patients and more than ever, the service has called on the Rescue Board for assistance with carrying patients.

According to Tallinn ambulance service head Raul Adlas, it is not a rare occasion where there are multiple ambulance units or even rescue units used to carry a patient.

There are multiple cases each week, where the ambulance service is unable to lift an overweight patient. Another unit is usually called, but there was a situation two weeks ago, where two rescue units were called. It took 13 people to lift the nearly 300 kg patient into the car.

"When I went to school, we were told that the average person weighs 70 kg and all medicines were dosed accordingly. It is rather complicated finding an adult man that weighs 70 kg today," Adlas said.

Increasingly common overweight patients lead the Tallinn ambulance service to begin using American standard stretchers seven years ago, capable of carrying patients up to 270 kg in weight. An additional 300 kg carrier was added to ambulance units' equipment a few years ago.

"A larger patient often comes with more co-morbidities and in a worse condition, generally. Getting them into the car is problematic. Often times, finding a vein is problematic. If they are in the car, the nurse cannot get close," said Kuressaare ambulance service manager Mihkel Laidna.

Laidna knows from his experience working on the mainland how an overweight patient had to be strapped to the stretcher, because if they were to fall off the frame during the drive, the ambulance would have had a hard time picking them up off the floor.

The Rescue Board has helped the ambulance services. "There are quite a few of these situations each year, somewhere in the 3,000 range each year. And this makes up some 10 percent of all our calls," said Rescue Board rescue operations head Martin Laming.

The Rescue Board's help is not only used for big patients, but also with general patient transport in buildings with no elevators and tight corridors. Medics are most commonly helped in Harju and Ida-Viru counties, but ambulance units in Saare County also require the rescuers' help at times.

"Apartment buildings are not a factor here. Farms and rural areas, there are only paths to the patients, a tight path through rooms leading to the patient's bed, there is nowhere for us to even put down equipment. Even if the patient is not overweight, it is difficult to get to them," Laidna said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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