News / USA

Overweight Americans Strain Local Emergency Budgets

Firefighters, paramedics train with special equipment that accommodates heavier patients

This stretcher, ramp and winch system can load a patient weighing up to 680 kilograms into an ambulance.
This stretcher, ramp and winch system can load a patient weighing up to 680 kilograms into an ambulance.
Priscilla Huff

A call for help comes into the Anne Arundel Fire Department. Emergency personnel do not know what type of patient they will deal with until they arrive on the scene.

To be prepared, firefighters and paramedics practice regularly. On this day, they are practicing with special equipment designed to accommodate overweight patients.

"People are bigger today than they used to be 20 to 30 years ago," says Michael Cox, a division chief with the Anne Arundel Fire Department in Maryland. "And we did identify a need for this type of equipment three to four years ago and went ahead and implemented it and put it in place here in the county."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says obesity costs the United States more than $145 billion annually. Local governments shoulder much of the costs, including investments in the special equipment to care for overweight patients during emergency medical situations. U.S. health officials say one out of three American adults is obese. And a Rand Corporation study from 2007 says the number of severely obese adults is growing twice as fast as the moderately overweight.

To care for these larger Americans, emergency service providers are investing in new equipment. The Anne Arundel County team is practicing with a stretcher, ramp and winch system that can load a patient weighing up to 680 kilograms into an ambulance. The costs of such equipment add up.

"The bariatric stretchers are typically two to three times more expensive than the normal stretchers or standard stretchers that are used in medical units," says Cox.

The equipment can add another $25,000 to the cost of an ambulance. In the United States, sales of emergency equipment that can handle very heavy humans has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Michael McAdams of neighboring Montgomery County Fire and Rescue says these patients are not just big, they can be fragile.

"Some of these patients, due to their size, due to the strain they've put on their body, they are more susceptible even to simple stress. I need you to move. I need you to walk. That can cause them respiratory distress and can put their cardiac system at stress and so those are issues I need to be aware of. "

Helping obese patients also requires investment in training to address their unique medical needs. And it's not just the cost of equipment that must be taken into consideration. There are also manpower issues. And it can require a lot of people, as many as 10 rescuers for a single emergency.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More