The Province is putting $20-million into paramedic services with hydraulic lifts for stretchers.

Paramedic Doran Midyette says it'll take a huge amount of strain off their backs and increase patient safety.

"When we first got these stretchers it was an absolute game changer, lifting upwards of ten thousand pounds a day down to zero, and that's without a lie, it's not a chance of being zero, it is down to zero and this has been incredible." Midyette says. "The biggest gentleman that I've had on this stretcher is 668 pounds and it picked him up no problem."

He says that type of lift, without the power lift, would have need eight paramedics, taking four ambulances out of service for the time they had to lift the patient into the ambulance, take him across town and then take him out at the hospital.

Alberta Health Services installed electronic lifts in eight inter-facility transfer vehicles in 2015 as part of a pilot project. During that time, not a single lift-related injury was reported by staff using the new equipment. Over that same 18-month period, 84 patient-handling injuries were reported amongst EMS staff working on vehicles without the lifts.

“Repetitive lifting is one of the leading causes of injuries to EMS practitioners. The new power stretchers and lift system will reduce the frequency of front-line crews having to physically lift patients in and out of ambulances, reducing the risk of injuries.” Darren Sandbeck, EMS chief paramedic, Alberta Health Services.

All ambulances should be equipped with the new stretchers by the end of 2018.

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